With its unmistakably bright orange glow and its bubbly personality, it’s easy to spot everywhere that summer is — from cruises and pool parties to outdoor brunches and rooftop bars. It’s the Aperol spritz, now the “it” drink for every warm-weather occasion.
Not since the days of “Sex and the City” and the “cosmo” has there been a must-have cocktail for outings with your BFFs.
The Aperol spritz, sometimes called a “spritz Veneziano,” is a mixture of the Italian aperitif Aperol, prosecco and soda. It evolved from the Austrian spritzer, a combination of white wine and soda water. In fact, the word “spritz” comes from the German word for “spray.”
While the Aperol spritz has recently become the popular girl at school, its base liqueur, Aperol, was launched in 1919 in Padua, Italy, where it was invented by the Barbieri brothers, Luigi and Silvio, who had inherited a liqueur company from their father.
Aperol’s ingredients include orange, gentian (an herb), cinchona (a tree) and rhubarb. Its liquor content of 11 percent is lower than many other popular aperitifs.
It is often compared to Campari, another orange-based Italian aperitif, which has a much more complex and bitter flavor. The Aperol brand was acquired by the Campari group in 2003.
That’s one of the main reasons why Aperol has become so popular lately. In 2017, Campari launched a huge marketing campaign to promote Aperol and the Aperol spritz. The tagline was: “So it’s orange-y and bubbly at the same time. Plus it’s super popular in Italy, so you know it’s good.”
Aperol was promoted at influential summer events in New York City, the Hamptons, Los Angeles and Palm Beach. The fact that wine glasses filled with the sunset-tinged drink made for great Instagram shots only added to its appeal.
According to PopSugar, “The Aperol Spritz is such a hit that it recently came in at No. 9 at the World’s Bestselling Cocktails of 2019.”
Aperol plays into the ongoing trend of craft cocktails with specialty ingredients such as bitters and herbal flavors. While bitter liqueurs — Averna, Cynar and Fernet-Branca, for example — have been popular in Europe for a long time, they are slowly creeping into America. Aperol tends to have more of a cloying flavor than those spirits, which appeals to America’s sweet tooth.
The drink’s popularity has not waned across the pond. On a recent European jaunt, I noticed Aperol ads scattered throughout the Paris Métro. Touring Italy’s Tuscany region, I saw trays of tangerine-colored drinks being delivered to tables of tourists and locals alike.
In general, I find the drink a tad too candy-like for my taste (especially when prepared with a sweet prosecco), but I couldn’t resist the urge to order one during my holiday under the Tuscan sun. At a restaurant that advertised itself as having the best view in Greve in Chianti, I felt the urge to take the obligatory Instagram shot of it sitting on the terrace with the rambling countryside in the background.
The recipe below follows the simple 3:2:1 formula used for all “spritz” drinks: 3 parts dry sparkling wine, 2 parts liqueur, 1 part soda water. The drink is built in the glass (or pitcher, if you’re entertaining) and requires no shaking or stirring, making it easy to assemble at home.
The Aperol Spritz
3 oz. prosecco
2 oz. Aperol
1 oz. soda water
Pour each ingredient, in order, into a wine glass. Garnish with an orange wheel.