The Season of the Spritz

By Carolyn Stine May 23, 2019 

We go beyond the Aperol to get you spritz-ready for the season ahead.

In truth, we don’t remember life before the Aperol spritz. We feel like this snazzy orange cocktail burst onto the scene, and we were forever changed. Now, we can’t go anywhere without seeing a spritz (or two) on the menu, featured at happy hour, and bedecking the outdoor tables of every rooftop bar once warm weather strikes. But while we felt like the spritz appeared out of left field, in actuality, this cocktail has a long and venerable history. We took a deep dive into the origins of our beloved spritz, and how to think beyond the Aperol and into a whole new world of delicious, refreshing, and incredibly drinkable aperitivos, just in time for spritz season. And if you don’t take our word for it, our favorite comedian Heather McMahan has a hilarious obsession with the cocktail that’s well-documented on her Instagram - check it out (and thank us later).

Spritz Season | Bashed

So, what is a spritz? And where the heck did it come from?

We like to call the story of the spritz “from Northern Italy, with love.” A traditional spritz is an apertivo, which is a wine-based cocktail that is served before the meal. Spritzes were made with the wines from the northern region of Veneto in Italy, such as Pinot Grigio and Prosecco.

What makes a spritz a spritz is the ratio of the ingredients. It’s all about the 3:2:1 with the spritz - 3 parts wine, 2 parts bitter spirit or liqueur, and 1 part soda water, served over ice. The beauty of the spritz is that it’s not too sweet, not too bitter, and not too boozy. The soda water tempers the stronger flavor of the bitter spirit, and the wine keeps it sweet and fruity. Plus, who doesn’t love an ice cold and bubbly bev when the weather is warm? ...And this is how our love of the spritz was born.

When should I be drinking a spritz, and what should I be drinking it with?

The thing about the spritz is that it can be drunk morning, afternoon, and evening. Kidding (but not really). Because the spritz is traditionally served as an aperitivo, it is meant to be enjoyed before the meal. In fact, it actually helps to stimulate your appetite to prep you for the delicious dinner ahead.

When serving a spritz, it’s all about pairing it with the right bar snacks. One of our favorite ways to enjoy a spritz is alongside a selection of juicy olives. The briny, sour olives are the perfect contrast to the sweetness of the spritz. We also love a handful of salty nuts to cut through the fruitiness of the spritz, such as these saffron marcona almonds.

What are the classic, Italian spritz liqueurs that I need to know about for living my ultimate spritz life?

While Aperol is certainly the most well known spritz, we are breaking down some of the most delicious and not-as-well-known Italian spritz liqueurs so that you can decode any cocktail hour menu out there, or set up a spritz bar at your next dinner party without fear.

Aperol

The queen of all spritz mixers, Aperol is probably also the most recognizable because of its vivid orange hue. This Italian liqueur has a ripe orange flavor that is sweet and fruity with only a hint of bitterness, making it one of the more mild liqueur options for spritz mixing. It also has a lower alcohol content, so you don’t have to worry about standing up from happy hour and having the room spin around you before dinner.

Campari

Just as visually appealing as Aperol, Campari has a beautiful, deep crimson color that is unmissable in a clear glass tumbler. This is also an Italian orange liqueur, but the flavor is quite different from Aperol. Not only is Campari far more bitter and herbal than Aperol, but it has a higher alcohol content as well.

Cocchi Americano

Lesser known to the American crowd, but soon to be a new fixture on your bar cart. Cocchi Americano is what’s known as an aromatized wine. It’s called an Americano, which refers to the Italian phrase meaning “wine made bitter” with the addition of herbs and spices. It’s light in color (looks like white wine in the bottle), and has notes of elderflower and bitter orange peel which make it absolutely delicious when paired with a spritz. Plus the label design is spot-on and looks gorgeous on display at home.

Cynar

This bitter Italian liqueur is what’s known as an amaro, which also just so happens to be a digestivo that is great for settling your stomach. It’s predominantly made from artichoke, and has a really unique, aromatic flavor. You’ve most likely seen this bottle on display at in-the-know bars - there’s a giant green artichoke illustration adorning it.

Fernet

Although Fernet is also an Italian amaro and part of the digestivo family, it has a distinctly different flavor profile than its cousin, Cynar. The rich brown color comes from the addition of herbs and spices such as cardamom and rhubarb, and it is exceptional when paired with a hint of Italian Vermouth in your spritz.

Season of the Spritz | Bashed
Pomp & Whimsy

Now that I have the basics down, what’s new and noteworthy in the spritz world for summer 2019?

While we are all about the Aperol, Campari, and the rest of the Italian liqueur and amaro families, we found ourselves asking… what’s next? And let us tell you, we found it.

Our spritzes of the season come courtesy of the masterminds at Pomp & Whimsy, a boutique distillery making a gin that is lower proof and slightly sweet in nature. Also known as, the ultimate spritz mixer. They put together two signature spritzes that feel just as fresh as they are refreshing for the spritz season ahead. So pop a cork, grab your friends, and get at-home bartending with these incredible spritz recipes that already have our hearts and our bellies for summer 2019.

Pompa Spritz

1 oz Pomp & Whimsy Gin Liqueur

1 oz bitter orange amaro

2 oz prosecco

1 oz club soda

Orange slice

Debut 17

(recipe via Christina Mercado)

1 oz Pomp & Whimsy Gin Liqueur

0.75 oz scotch

0.5 oz bergamot juice

0.25 oz simple syrup

3.5 oz sparkling wine

Veteran spritzer, or rookie spritzer getting into your first season? Either way, share your spritz stories and where you’ve had your favorite!

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Carolyn Stine

A party without cake is just a meeting.

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