Aperol SpritzLooking to cool off on hot summer days with a refreshing Italian sip? A few years ago we discovered the Aperol Spritz while touring the narrow streets and endless historical sites in central Florence. We also found a great place to take a mid-day break for cool refreshment, the Odeon Bistro a few short blocks southwest of the Duomo. After taking a seat in the shade of the covered outdoor dining area, I asked for the mightiest thirst quencher they serve. The waiter recommended the standard summertime cocktail of Italy, an ice cold Aperol Spritz.

What is an Aperol Spritz? A Spritz (aka Venetian Spritz or simply Spritz) is a summer cocktail served throughout Italy. The central ingredient is Aperol, an herb and root-based liqueur made of bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb, cinchona and other ingredients. Alcohol content is a mellow 11 percent, so it is often served from mid-morning to sunset.

Aperol was first developed in 1919, though its popularity sharply increased with introduction of the Aperol Spritz® in the 1950’s. In 2003, Guppo Campari bought Barbero 1891, owner of the Aperol brand, and a revitalized marketing campaign boosted popularity of Aperol and the Aperol Spritz® throughout Italy and the world.

If you’re looking for a tasty splash of icy summer refreshment, this drink is for you.

Aperol aperitif liqueurA proper Spritz made with the Aperol Spritz® original recipe should be mixed as follows:

  1. Fill a standard Burgundy (or similar) wine glass or tumbler ¾ full with ice
  2. Drop ½ slice of orange on top of the ice
  3. Pour 3 parts top quality Prosecco over the ice (Italian sparkling wine)
  4. Add 2 parts Aperol by pouring it around the inner wall of the glass (circling twice)
  5. Add 1 part club soda or sparkling water

Today, variations of the original Spritz recipe are concocted and served throughout the world. Not surprisingly, the 3/2/1 proportions of Prosecco, Aperol and soda water are usually not changed much, if at all. Here are a few common tweeks you can experiment with to find the perfect Spritz that fits your unique taste:

  • Twist the orange slice to release more juice
  • Substitute a green olive for the orange slice
  • Substitute a twist of lemon for the orange slice
  • Substitute tonic water for soda water
  • Increase sweetness by increasing the proportion of Aperol
  • Reduce total alcohol content by increasing the proportion of soda water to Aperol and Prosecco (note: Aperol and Prosecco are both about 11% alcohol)

Michigan Spritz

For a greater departure from the original recipe, try chef Mario Batali’s uniquely American Michigan Spritz pictured above (disclosure: Mario spends summers at his home in northern Michigan).

  1. Fill a standard Burgundy (or similar) wine glass or tumbler ¾ full with ice
  2. Pour 2 ounces Aperol over the ice
  3. Add 2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
  4. Add 6 ounces sparkling white wine (American, but produced in Michigan is preferred)
  5. Add more ice until the glass is almost full
  6. Garnish with 1 green olive on a cocktail skewer
  7. Garnish with 3 Amarena cherries on a second skewer (canned Italian cherries)
  8. Garnish with ½ orange slice

Do you have a favorite Spritz recipe? Please share it in the comments below.

When in Florence, try a Spritz at the Odeon Bistro, Piazza degli Strozzi 8/r, Florence, Italy Tel +39 055 215654