Cold, bubbly, and refreshing, the spritz might just be the ultimate warm weather cocktail. This longtime staple of classic Italian drinking culture is also one of the hottest drinks in America at the moment, thanks to the expanding popularity of herbaceous bitters and other amari (Italian liquours).
With the help of multiple new books, including Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau (Ten Speed Press) and Bitterman’s Field Guide to Bitters & Amari by Mark Bitterman (Andrews McMeel Publishing), today’s tipplers — and their bartenders — are discovering the unique pleasures of kicking off an evening in style with an aperitivo, whether to stimulate the appetite for dinner or to set the mood for festivities to come.
Just A Little Spritz
And this summer, the spritz — a wine-based cocktail commonly served as an aperitif in northern Italy — is challenging rosé as the drink of the summer. Carlos Ruíz, award-winning bartender and Director of Spirits & Mixology at Crystal Springs Resort in Hamburg, has witnessed the spritz’s skyrocketing popularity. “[I think] it has become popular among cocktail drinkers because is very low in alcohol, it is refreshing, and you can drink it throughout the whole day,” Ruíz says.
“To make a classic spritz,” Ruíz continues, “You need Prosecco, a bitter liqueur like Aperol, Campari, or Cynar and sparkling water. It is served over ice in a wine glass [and] garnished with an orange slice.” But that’s the traditional spritz; According to Ruíz, today’s bartenders are experimenting with the classic cocktail and adding a contemporary touch.
“Some ways we bartenders are making [the spritz] more modern is by creating cocktail programs that utilize a liqueur as the base spirit in a cocktail, which [keeps] it low alcohol and [lets] customers enjoy more cocktails in one sitting,” he says. “I have a whole menu that consist of low ABV [alcohol by volume] cocktails.”
Add a touch of Italy to your summer get-together with these refreshing spritz recipes. Salute!
Aperol Spritz (Garden State Edition)
“My favorite will [always] be the classic Aperol spritz,” Ruíz tells us. “It is just so refreshing, smooth and perfect in any occasion, in my opinion.” To add a splash of the Garden State to this cocktail, use a sparkling wine made in New Jersey.
3 oz. prosecco or sparkling wine, such as NV Tomasello Blanc de Blanc Extra Dry from Tomasello Winery
2 oz. Aperol
1 splash soda
Orange slice, for garnish
Combine the prosecco and Aperol in a chilled wine glass filled with ice. Stir to combine, then top with the club soda. Garnish with the orange slice.
2 oz. Carpano Bianco
1 oz. cucumber juice
1/2 oz. blueberry syrup
1/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 oz. sparkling water
1 oz. prosecco or sparkling wine, such as NV Sparkling Rkatsiteli from Tomasello Winery
In a wine glass, combine the ingredients. Add ice and stir. Garnish with an edible flower.
Cynar Spritz Padua Style
2 oz. prosecco or sparkling wine, such as NV Villa Neri Spumante Secco from Hopewell Valley Vineyards
2 oz. Cynar
Pitted olive or orange slice, for garnish
Combine the sparkling wine and Cynar in a chilled cocktail glass filled with ice. Stir to combine, then garnish with either a pitted olive or slice of orange.
1 oz. Jersey White Wine from Heritage Vineyard
2 oz. seltzer or mineral water
1 oz. Campari
Slice of lemon peel or orange wedge, for garnish
Combine the wine and seltzer or mineral water in a cocktail glass filled with ice. Float the Campari on top of the mixture, then stir and garnish with the lemon peel or orange wedge.
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