At cafés in Verona, and throughout Italy generally, it seems that everyone is drinking a radioactive-orange beverage in a wineglass. Welcome to the Age of the Spritz. Although it has been around for decades, the Spritz appears to have caught fire (perhaps literally, based on the color) a few years ago, and it is now seen on outdoor tables from the Veneto to Piemonte and beyond during the famous predinner, post-passeggiata cocktail hour. And the virus has started to spread around the world, with Spritzes showing up in all the trendiest places in the United States from San Francisco to Floyds Knobs, Indiana.
If you haven’t had one yet, a Spritz is basically a mix of bitters, wine, and fizzy water over ice, usually with a slice of orange. Bitters have been around for ages, prized for their perceived ability to stimulate the appetite and also to aid in digestion. The de rigueur bitters for today’s Spritz is Aperol, a bright orange amaro from Padua that was acquired by Campari several years ago—not coincidentally about the time the Spritz’s resurgence began.
Aperol’s official Spritz recipe calls for 3 parts Prosecco, 2 parts Aperol, and 1 part club soda. But variations abound. Some recipes specify equal parts of the three components. In some establishments, you’ll get Champagne or another sparkling wine, or even a still wine, instead of Prosecco, and a few might also include a splash of fruit juice or gin. Depending upon the amount of residual sugar in the wine used, Spritzes can finish bitter and dry (more refreshing) or a little bittersweet.
What are your impressions of the Spritz—fad or here to stay? Where have you had a memorable example? What interesting (or appalling) variations have you seen? Record your experiences below.