Bright orange in color, lightly sweet, and crisply refreshing, an Aperol spritz conjures up the taste of summer all year round. This simple formula guarantees a perfectly balanced cocktail every time. No cocktail shaker required!
A really good Aperol spritz conjures up images of sitting on a piazza in Italy (or maybe your front porch on a glorious evening!) and the color is reminiscent of a vibrant sunset.
It tastes great, too, and while an Aperol spritz may seem like the ideal summer drink (it is!), it’s also the perfect drink to evoke the feeling of summer as the days grow shorter.
Throughout the past summer, this light, cheerful-looking drink has proven to be the cocktail of choice at several of our socially distanced get-togethers. It’s also easy to whip up when you’d like a little something special any day of the week.
The Aperol spritz heralds from Italy, which is considered the home of the aperitivo, or aperitif—a pre-dinner cocktail that tends to be refreshing and light on alcohol. An aperitivo is intended to stimulate the appetite without filling you up—or making you loopy!
In a day and age where almost anything can be the subject of impassioned debate, this drink has not been without its fair share of light-hearted controversy. The New York Times once declared that “The Aperol Spritz Is Not a Good Drink.” Grub Street pounced back with the “Entire Internet Agrees Aperol Spritz Is, in Fact, Good.”
Clearly, I stand with camp Grub Hub on this one!
Originating from Italy, Aperol is an infusion of herbs and roots, although its two most distinctive flavors are orange and rhubarb. Aperol is classified as a liqueur like Campari (they are produced by the same company) but with about half the alcohol and less bitterness. Considered light by liquor standards, Aperol’s alcohol by volume (or ABV) is 11%.
Prosecco is a sparkling Italian wine named after the village of Prosecco. For an Aperol spritz, you may freely substitute another sparkling wine like Champagne, Cava, a sparkling Riesling, or a domestic sparkling wine. And as I mention below, splits (a smaller, 6-ounce bottle) are a practical and economical option for those who wish to make one to three drinks at a time.
A carbonated water of some sort provides fizzy dilution. Any unflavored sparkling water from Perrier or San Pellegrino to club soda or seltzer water will do the trick. I keep cans of sparkling water or a few bottles of San Pellegrino in my pantry for this purpose.
A slice of fresh orange is traditional and adds a hint of flavor and visual appeal. Alternatively, I have used a lime or clementime slice－or a mix. As an added convenience, citrus fruits have a long refrigerator life, so it’s easy to keep one or two on hand. In a pinch, however, you could make the drink without the fresh citrus and still have a good result.
The official Aperol Spritz recipe calls for 3 parts prosecco, 2 parts Aperol, and a splash of club soda. I find those ratios produce a somewhat bitter drink, and over time have hit on a 3-2-1 ratio that starts with Aperol. Family and friends have thus far reported this to be cocktail perfection!
Many people skip the measuring for a drink like this and simply eyeball. In order to achieve a perfect outcome every time, I really recommend measuring. It’s easy. You can use a cocktail jigger or a shot glass with measurements or fill lines. A kitchen scale is equally ideal for this purpose.
Would you like to make a pitcher of Aperol Spritzes? Simply use a measuring cup and follow the straightforward ratios.
How to Adjust Your Aperol Spritz:
If you’d like a hint more or less sweetness, you could add an extra splash of Aperol (more sweet) or Prosecco (less sweet)—or an extra squeeze of the fresh orange or lime garnish. As written, the Aperol spritz is around 10% alcohol content by volume (Aperol is 11% ABV, Prosecco is 12%, and one-sixth of the mixture is water).
A balloon-type or red wine glass feels sort of fancy to me (and is often how the drink is served in a restaurant), although a stemless wine glass, a double old-fashioned, highball, or any glass that you like will do!
Best storage and how to avoid waste:
My friend Suzanne shared a fantastic tip with me that’s worth passing along. If you’d like to make an occasional cocktail or two, a bottle of Prosecco provides more than you need. Instead, purchase splits (smaller, 6-ounce bottles) of Prosecco that will be enough for three drinks.
Another tip: if you have leftover, there’s a trick to maintaining the fizziness of the sparkling wine for a few days. Simply screw the cap back on and refrigerate. Fancy gadgets that suck the air out of the bottle actually remove the aeration. Who knew? (Thank you to a savvy Wegmans employee for telling me this!)
On the other hand, Aperol, like most spirits, has a very long shelf life and need not be refrigerated after opening. Many spirit companies, recommend storing your bottles in a cool, dark place and using them within one to two years of opening.
A little trivia:
Aperol came to be in 1919, but the concept of a spritz began long before. I read that the name traces back to the 1800s in when portions of northern Italy were controlled by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Visitors were said to have found Italian wines too strong, so they lightened them with a splash (a “spritz,” in German) of water.
My friend, Emily, a professed fan of the spritz, recently mentioned that she purchased the apertivo from this Brooklyn distillery for her husband’s last birthday to use as an alternative to Aperol. Friends who enjoy the cocktail may enjoy a similar gift—or you could make an “Aperol spritz kit” for a fun holiday, birthday, or anniversary gift.