The Classic Italian Summer Cocktail – The Aperol Spritz

Orange drink in wineglass.

Italian summers are hot. And humid. Some days it feels as if you are melting. So one needs a refreshing drink to get by. And that is where the classic Italian summer cocktail – the Aperol Spritz comes in.

Aperol is an Italian apéritif (aperitvo in Italian) made of bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb, and cinchona among other ingredients. Ok, seriously does anyone know what gentian or cinchona are? I didn’t. So I looked them up. Gentian is a cute little purple flower. Technically it is an herb from the alps, that is commonly used as a digestive aid.  Cinchona, also known as quina, is also a medicinal plant from South America. How it found its way into an Italian drink I have no idea.

Aperol was originally produced by the Barbieri company, based in Padua, but is now produced by the Campari company. While Aperol was originally created in 1919, it did not become successful until after World War II.

campari

Photo credit: Campari.com

It is funny to me that the Campari company bought Aperol since the two drinks taste so  similar to me.  I guess they wanted to eliminate the competition. While they are similar in taste, Aperol has half the alcohol content of Campari.

Speaking of taste, Aperol tastes both bitter and citrusy at the same time. And orange is both the predominant color and flavor.

The classic Aperol Spritz cocktail is a combination of Aperol and Prosecco. Truth be told, I took a long time to warm up to The Spritz. I do no like anything to sully my Prosecco and the bitterness of the Aperol was an acquired taste for me. Now that I have acquired the taste however, I really enjoy it on a hot summer day.

While popular in Italy, the Spritz was not an international drink until the last 6 years or so when hipsters started drinking them in New York, London and San Francisco.
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If you fancy yourself a hipster or just like a refreshing drink on hot summer days, here are two recipes to try:

Classic Aperol Spritz

Fill wine glass with about three ice cubes
Fill glass 2/3 with Prosecco
Add 1/3 Aperol
Add a slice of orange

Modern Aperol Spritz

Fill wine glsss with about three ice cubes
Fill glass 2/3 with Prosecco
Add 1/3 Aperol
Add a slice of orange
Add a shot of gin
Add a splash of soda water

Pair with some Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, mostardo and olives and you have a fine aperitvo on hand. Or you could try your hand at this recipe.

Buon appetito a tutti!

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