Italian spritz aperol: the future’s orange

Article published on Feb. 3, 2012
Article published on Feb. 3, 2012
The Italian-born spritz aperol has gained official international recognition, being classed as a ‘new drink’ by the international bartenders’ association. We took this as an excuse to try out the sparkling brew, which the Italians will tell us is anything but new

It was about time that someone at the international bartenders association (IBA) noticed the spritz aperol. The good ol’ boys down at the London-based association call it the spritz veneziano. After including it in the category of the new drinks, they signed a blank check so as to spread the good news – or drink – throughout the rest of the world. Not liking to do things by half-measures, they even fixed a universal spritz recipe.

More than a Venetian cocktail

The Italianaficionados (fans) are crying: their spritz is much more than a ‘Venetian’ cocktail. It's an orange flag planted in the centre of each happy party: the Ovosodo bar in Vicenza, north-east Italy offers a selection of twenty-two different types of spritz, for example, and the menu is far from exhaustive. After being confined to northeastern Italy - where it is still sold at a non-inflated price - for years the aperitif quickly became popular in the rest of the peninsula too. The communication experts for Campari, who own the copyright for aperol, talked of a true ‘orange wave’.

Time for a history lesson: every respectable elixir has glorious ancestors. In the nineteenth century, Austrian soldiers stationed in the northeast of Italy region used to add water or soda water to local wines which were too strong for their Germanic tastes. Hence the word ‘spritz’ which comes from the Germany ‘spritzen’ or ‘to spray’. To remedy the disgraceful mix of wine and water Giuseppe Barbieri, owner of the nearby distillery in the city of Bassano del Grappa, intervened and created the recipe dell’Aperol in 1919. The result was a recipe which remains secret almost one hundred years later, with infusions of bitter and sweet orange and herbs of various kinds. The taste is slightly bitter with an 11% alcohol content.

Recipe, according to IBA

So what is the perfect recipe for a true aperol spritz, a recipe which the ‘trendy’ international barman will never know? ‘It’s important to know and respect the proportions of the ingredients,' says Marina Miroglio, owner of the Turin café in central Paris, the French capital’s number one cafe for aperol. 'However, the amount of alcohol can vary, depending on the season and personal tastes. The spritz is a styling and light drink, which each region has its own take on. Even people who don’t know the spritz are seduced by its orange colour and the elegant glass  in which it is served.’

6cl of Prosecco4cl of AperolA splash of soda (does nobody use sparkling water anymore?)

Pour into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Top with a splash of soda water. Add a slice of orange as the finishing touch. Enjoy!

Image: (cc) jekkone's/ flickr