If you’re ever in Sydney during the summer, you would be well aware that you can’t throw a jigger without hitting someone drinking a Spritz Cocktail.
Within this city, variations of this age-old Italian aperitif have had quite the summer fling over the last few years; a trend that we really don’t see abating.
So stand aside Mimosa, take a back seat Peach Bellini, when it comes to fashionable imbibing, the Spritz Cocktail appears to be the effervescent drink of choice as the weather heats up.
And you can understand why, simply top off any aperitif, hard spirit, or juice with sparkling wine and a splash of soda water, and it’s immediately summer-ized. We have 7 ways to spin the Spritz that are not only thirst-quenching, super easy but also consumable with a late-in-the-day level of ease.
The modern spritz has its roots—the Italian mythos goes—in Hapsburg-occupied northern Italy in the nineteenth century, when Austrian soldiers introduced the practice of adding a spritz (spray) of water to the region’s wines, in an effort to make them more pleasing to their Riesling-weaned palates. The drink went through a number of iterations, first with the inclusion of soda water at the turn of the nineteenth century, then the addition of the all-important bitter element (which made it both undeniably Italian and a proper cocktail) in the 1920s and early 1930s, and finally the widespread addition of Prosecco in the 1990s. Today, the spritz archetype is more or less a combination of three parts Prosecco, two parts bitter Liqueur, and one part Soda.
The Bitter Truth Of Day Drinking
What is it about the Spritz Cocktail that has inspired so many variations? It surely has something to do with the versatility of the drink’s format—bitter, bubbly, low-alcohol—and the leisure culture it embodies.
Another reason people have recently taken to riffing on the Spritz Cocktail is that it fits neatly at the intersection of several current trends: the continuing embrace of bitter Liqueurs and the culture of Aperitivo, along with the enthusiasm for lower-alcohol cocktails and what is often referred to as “session drinking.”
Basically, it is the ideal cocktail for day-drinking that doesn’t make you fall over. It is a light drink to enjoy in the afternoon or early evening, with the emphasis is all about socializing. It’s a sophisticated approach were inebriation is not the aim. And the Europeans have always done it right.
How to Spritz
First, a spritz is all about the bubbles. Whether these bubbles are acquired through soda water, Prosecco, some other sparkling wine, or a flavoured soda, the spritz would not be a spritz without effervescence.
Second, a spritz is low in alcohol, which, for all intents and purposes, means that it shouldn’t contain high levels of any Spirits or Liqueur. This is a drink that is consumed when the day is waning, and the night is young.
Third, a spritz is a pre-dinner drink, meant to be consumed in that liminal hour between work and play. It should be bitter as a means to open the stomach for a meal.
How to Riff on the Spritz
The best-known Spritz is, of course, the classic Aperol Spritz. This now famous drink calls for a three-two-one formula (three parts Prosecco, two parts Aperol and one part soda water) built over ice and garnished with a slice of orange. And the simplicity of this formula leaves a lot of room for experimentation.
It’s easy to initially tinker with the proportions, and once that is done move on to playing with the proportions. You might want to change up the base Spirits; fiddle with different types of Liqueurs or Amaros; add some different types of fresh citrus; the really experimental will of course also turn to infusions.
But it’s the effervescent portion of the drink that opens up the field for a variety of riffing to occur. Beyond Prosecco and Soda water, try toying with other sparkling drinks such as Kombucha, Lambrusco, homemade Sodas, the variety of new Tonic Waters, the various sparkling wines on the market and even different types of Ciders.
Whether you are looking to dabble with an alternative bubbly lift, or simple shift up the base, the Spritz has endless possibilities both for your taste buds and how you drink and socialise.