Pagina principale Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes

Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes

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A narrative-driven book on the surprising history and current revival of spritz cocktails (a wine-based drink served as an aperitif), with 50 recipes, including both historical classics and modern updates.

From Milan to Los Angeles, Venice to New York, the spritz—Italy’s bitter and bubbly aperitivo cocktail—has become synonymous with a leisurely, convivial golden hour. But the spritz is more than just an early evening cocktail—it’s a style of drinking. In Spritz, Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau trace the drink’s origins to ancient Rome, uncover its unlikely history and culture, explore the evolution of aperitivo throughout Northern Italy, and document the spritz’s revival around the world. From regional classics to modern variations, Spritz includes dozens of recipes from some of America’s most lauded bartenders, a guide to building a spritz bar, and a collection of food recipes for classic Italian snacks to pair alongside.


From the Hardcover edition.
Anno: 2016
Edizione: ebook
Editore: Ten Speed Press
Lingua: english
Pagine: 176
ISBN 13: 9781607748861
ISBN: 160774886X
File: EPUB, 74.78 MB
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Descrizione geografica della Sardegna

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Lingua: italian
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Spy

Lingua: english
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Copyright © 2016 by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House LLC

Photographs copyright © 2016 by Dylan + Jeni

Illustrations copyright © 2016 by Matthew Allen

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

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Ten Speed Press and the Ten Speed Press colophon are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file with the publisher.

Hardcover ISBN: 9781607748854

eBook ISBN: 9781607748861

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v4.1

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DRINKS

INTRODUCTION



A SPRITZ IS BORN

THE SPRITZ LIFE

SPRITZ COCKTAILS

Classic

Modern

Cousins

THE APERITIVO TABLE



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

WHERE TO SPRITZ

INDEX





CLASSIC

Venetian Spritz

Negroni Sbagliato

White Spritz

Bicicletta

MODERN

Rosé All Day

Tarocco Spritz

The Rib Tickler

Viking Culture

Alpine Spritz

Nero Chinato Spritz

Blood Orange

Unnamed Go-To

Punch House Spritz

Appennini Spritz

Hugo Spritz

Amarena Spritz

Byrrh It’s Cold Outside

Mai Tai Spritz

SpritzZ

Viva Alberti

Wildair Spritz

Everything’s Coming up Rosé

Safe Passage

Aperol Betty

COUSINS

Americano

Americano Perfecto

Coffee Spritz

Punch Romaine

Sensa Spritz

Shore Leave Spritz

Rome with a View

Sippy Cup

White Port & Tonic

Tinto de Verano

Sgroppino

Mont Blanc Fizz

Cold in the Shadows

Diamond Spritz Fizz

Sangrita

Hungry Hungry Hipster

Pink Lemonade à la Playboy

Tunnel Vision

Second Serve

Bitter Intentions

THE APERTIVO TABLE

Sarde in Saor

Tramezzini

Aperitivo Essenziale

Carciofi Alla Veneziana

Spiedini Di Mare

Crostini

Mondeghili

Fondi Di Carciofi

Polenta





The Italian word sprezzatura doesn’t have an English translation. Coined in the early sixteenth century by Renaissance author Baldassare Castiglione in his Book of the Courtier (1528), sprezzatura implied the sort of effortless grace that royal attendants of that gilded era embodied. For Castiglione, sprezzatura was a definitive pillar of true art—to work so hard at something that its beauty, to the beholder, appeared easy, agile, blithe. It was, in essence, the art of concealing art’s design.

Today the word has taken on a more colloquial meaning. It’s often tossed around in menswear publications in reference to details of rakish sophistication—imperfectly folded pocket squares, oxfords worn without socks, the perfect five o’clock stubble. Although the spritz and sprezzatura are not offically related, it’s this I-woke-up-like-this mix of beauty and ease that perhaps best describes the drink.

This would, admittedly, be the perfect place to tell the story of our respective first spritzes, but neither of us can remember when we met the Technicolor dreamboat for the first time. It was likely during our “formative” drinking years, on one of a couple trips to Italy in the mid-2000s, wherein the spritz was likely shoved into an evening that very well could’ve included everything from red wine to lighter fluid (not really, but practically)—hence the foggy memory.

We do, however, remember when the drink became a part of our everyday routines, about three summers ago. Little did we know that this frivolous cocktail, seemingly built to be tossed back with abandon, had such a backstory.

While the proto-spritz can be traced back to Greek and Roman times, 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 liquer, and one part soda. And thanks to Aperol, it’s now Italy’s most popular cocktail.

But more than just the ideal combination of bubbles and bitterness in a low-alcohol package, the spritz has become a window into understanding not only the evolution of Italian cocktail culture but also the importance of ritual and leisure to Italian identity.

In America, our homegrown cultural reference point for the spritz (or “spritzer,” as ladies of a certain generation might refer to it) is a less enchanted one. It’s a word that, for decades, was synonymous with perms, thong leotards, Richard Simmons, salad bars, and blush wine. Born as a half-hearted diet fad in the 1980s, the white wine spritzer was the softer sister of the vodka-soda—a monument to the era that oversaw the slow death of sophisticated flavors (and, simultaneously, many overwrought attempts at the opposite). But the current cocktail renaissance has left no stone unturned.

Now, in place of the spritzer, there are countless riffs on the bitter, bubbly, low-alcohol formula that has become nothing short of a phenomenon in Italy. But in true American fashion, the drink’s blueprint has birthed an entire category of new drinks here, from those that swap in lambrusco for prosecco, tonic for soda water, sherry for white wine, and shrubs for fresh fruit. And though not always explicitly called spritzes, the low-alcohol cocktail movement, which includes classic aperitivi (drinks meant to open a meal) like the Americano, coolers, and more, often carries spritzes under its own umbrellas of easygoing effervescence. Spritzes incognito, you might say.





With all of this avant-garde spritzing happening anew in the United States (which we’ve explored with great vigor), we wondered what might be going on with the spritz in its spiritual home. How was it faring amidst the incredible success of the Aperol Spritz campaign, and what secrets did its stomping grounds in northern Italy still hold? It was out of a sense of duty that we went off to find the answers to these very important questions.

Over the course of ten days, we cut a path across northern Italy, from the many old bacari (wine bars) in Venice to the legendary Bar Basso in Milan to the old gilded cafés of Turin. In the process, we discovered that the spritz’s biggest secret is that it really is much more than a recipe or a category of drinks that calls for the mixing of Italian booze and wine. The spritz is a regional perspective on the aperitif—or, as Leonardo Leuci, one of the owners of the Roman cocktail bar The Jerry Thomas Project and a leading expert on Italian cocktails, eloquently points out, “a cultural way that certain regions in the north—Veneto, Trentino, Friuli—think about aperitifs.”

It’s also a mantra, an attitude, and a state of being.

The spritz really is sprezzatura itself.

What we aim to offer you in the pages to follow is a glimpse of the spritz’s past and present, in Italy and in the American craft cocktail bar. We also hope to translate how the spritz became so much more than a recipe and a marketing campaign, but part of a ritual and a means to understand an entire country’s philosophy on socializing—the “spritz life,” if you will.

And after many a golden hour spent in the north of Italy, we wanted to extend and share the ritual back home, so we’ve provided you with all of the advice and tools to create your own aperitivo hour (Italian happy hour)—from building your go-to spritz bar to devising the ideal snack spread to match. We’ve created a framework of drink recipes that present the evolution of the spritz from classic to modern to the drink’s philosophical relatives. But they are simply that: a set of little tried-and-true blueprints that are meant less as ending points than as trailheads.

So, without further ado: spritz on.





IT ALL BEGAN WITH the Greeks and Romans, naturally.

Back in the fourth and fifth century B.C., when Alexander III was slaying his way to “Great” and Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle were fathering modern philosophy, these men were also, for all intents and purposes—proto-spritzing.

During the heady days of empire building, it was considered gauche to drink wine without first mixing it with water. “Only Dionysus, they believed, could drink unmixed wine without risk,” writes Tom Standage in A History of the World in 6 Glasses. Drunkenness, as it were, was not next to godliness. Thus, lengthening and diluting the concentrated wines of the day meant that you could, say, drink a pitcher of wine at the symposium without getting yourself in trouble with the symposiarch (essentially an ancient mash-up of host and chaperone).

After Rome overtook Greece as the dominant Mediterranean powerhouse in the middle of the second century B.C., many of the cultural achievements of the Greeks lived long in Roman culture, not least among them the cultivation and appreciation of wine.

As the Italian peninsula established itself as the premier supplier of wine to the Mediterranean basin, a number of Greek wine-mixing rituals were improved upon, notably the addition of water to wine, or even seawater, as the Greek wines of Cos and Lesbos became famous for. Falernian, a white wine grown on the slopes of present-day Mount Massico near the border between Campania and Lazio, was considered the most expensive and sought-after wine in the Roman Empire, and one of the most mythologized in the history of wine. In a testament to the importance of the “proto-spritzing” ritual, even the oldest and most prized vintages of Falernian were mixed with water—an act akin to dumping your water glass into a decanter full of very old, and very expensive, Montrachet.

Bacchus wept.

While Falernian loomed large in the Roman psyche, a number of other wines established themselves as all the rage; most notable among them (at least for our purposes) was Setine. A spritz of sorts, Setine, or Setinum, was a strong, sweet wine often diluted with snow that became the premier summer drink and a pan-seasonal favorite of Augustus, owing both to its flavor (according to the Roman poet Martial, it tasted of salty Chian figs, for what it’s worth) and the fact that it did not cause him indigestion. Other wines, like Mulsum, which had honey added to it; Conditum, which was mixed with herbs and spices; and Rosatum, which was flavored with roses, were often consumed as aperitivi.

Fast forward 2,000 years, and the foundation of our modern notion of the aperitivo drink is being built, bar by bar, in northern Italy—first in the northwest with vermouth in the eighteenth century, bitter liqueurs in the nineteenth century, and a combination of vermouth and bitters at the beginning of the twentieth century (hello, Americano). At the same time, the northeast is busy with its own interpretation of the archetypal aperitivo cocktail: the spritz.





WATER INTO WINE


The word “spritz”—derived from the German spritzen, meaning “to spray”—is the first clue to the modern origins of the drink. The Italian legend is that the spritz either originated in the northeast of Italy in the nineteenth century, when the region was ruled by the Hapsburgs (centuries-strong Austro-Hungarian imperialists who had some notorious trouble with inbreeding), or during World War I, when Austrian soldiers were, likewise, a fixture in the region.

These folks, used to their high-acid Rieslings and Grüners, apparently didn’t take to the wines of the area, the story goes, which—depending on who you ask—were considered either too bitter, too strong, of poor quality, or all of the above. The Austrians ultimately resorted to ordering their wine with a spritz of water to dilute it, in an unintentional nod to the ancients.

As with most Italian tales of uncertain origin, the spritz story has acquired a very Italian dose of embellishment—including one dead-serious story a notable Italian bartender told us involving beach-going German counts and Valpolicella—to the point of parody. Roberto Pasini, in his book on the spritz phenomenon in Italy, Guida allo Spritz, sarcastically recounts an alternative origin story wherein a bartender, outraged at the notion that his patron would ask for water in his wine, punches him in the face, causing a “spritz” of blood from his busted nose to splash into his glass, coloring his drink a shade of red. “Okay, I allowed myself some license,” he jokes, “but I swear I based it on the most reliable historical hypotheses.”

Whether or not the modern spritz’s origins involve foreign soldiers with an aversion to the strength (or quality) of the wines is difficult to confirm—and every person really will give you a different answer. What we do know is that the early spritz was simply a combination of white wine and still water, à la Greek- and Roman-style.

But as far as we’re concerned, even if the widespread practice of adding water to wine in the north of Italy—or at least the introduction of the word “spritz” to define it—does belong to the Hapsburgs, the spritz really doesn’t become the modern spritz until it gains its now-inseparable sparkle. Or as Guido Zarri, the former owner of Select (the Venetian red bitter brand often credited as the first to be added to the spritz formula), puts it, “the spritz is born when soda is born.”

While soda water was present in Italy by the end of the nineteenth century—and siphons began appearing in aspirational advertisements for everything from Campari to Bitter Pastore in the first years of the twentieth century—according to Fulvio Piccinino, a drinks historian and the author of La Miscelazione Futurista (Futurist Mixology), it only started to become a widespread fixture in bars about a decade and a half into the twentieth century.

By the late 1910s, soda water was at least popular enough that it prompted the invention of what remains one of Italy’s most important aperitivo cocktails: the Americano, which is documented for the first time in Ferruccio Mazzon’s 1920 Guida al Barman. During this same time, the first iteration of the modern spritz began planting its flag in the northeast of Italy and beyond. You could order the spritz liscio (plain) or spritz bianco (white)—a simple mixture of soda water and white wine that is now known as the “spritzer” in the United States and Austria, gespritzer or schorle in Germany, fröccs in Hungary, gemist in Croatia, and so on.

1980S FLASHBACK: THE WHITE WINE SPRITZER

In the United States, the affluent eighties were all leg warmers, synthesizers, hair bands, Molly Ringwald, and, of course, white wine spritzers. While the Iron Curtain was coming down and the stock market going up, the spritzer was conceived from the same health fads that birthed Jazzercise, the cabbage soup diet, and aspartame. Though not unlike those first Hapsburgian spritzes consumed along the Italy-Austria border—simple, refreshing, and low-alcohol—the white wine spritzer had zero connection to European pre-dinner rituals, but rather, was born of the low-fat, “no pain, no gain” lifestyle. Fixed between manufactured wine coolers and boxed blush wine, this symbol of aging suburban femininity has seen a somewhat ironic resurgence amongst the cocktail set, which has banished all matronly implications from the modern notion of an American aperitivo.





This white spritz, though, is neither a cocktail (the common creed is that a cocktail is not a cocktail if it contains less than three ingredients) nor exactly Italian. Those two designations come with the addition, in the 1920s and 1930s, of what is arguably the spritz’s most important ingredient: bitter liqueur. When it comes to the modern Italian perspective on mixed drinks (and, sidebar, fascism—but never mind that), it’s in this period that, according to Fulvio Piccinino, “everything is born.”





THE RISE OF THE ITALIAN BITTER


The production of bitter liqueurs—wine- or spirit-based concoctions infused with bitter herbs, citrus, other ingredients, and sweeteners—and vermouth had become a cultural imperative in Turin by the middle of the nineteenth century (and earlier, in the case of vermouth).

Coffee, it turned out, was—then as it is now—inseparable from alcohol in Italy. By 1842 Turin had around one hundred coffeehouses, or cafés, that played host to a broad cross-section of society. Decked out in marble, gold, and glass, with preternatural lighting that seems to melt into the furnishings, the surviving cafés (many of them beautifully preserved) exude a sort of halo effect—as if to remove any doubt about their divinity within Italian culture. Manned by bow-tied and white-jacketed barmen, these cafés in their original forms may have been all-business in the front, but there was very often a party in the back.

The cellars and backrooms of these cafés became defacto labs manned by a maître licoriste or specialiare—an alcoholic alchemist of sorts tasked with, among other things, mixing formulas for bitters, both proprietary and from established recipes. It’s here that some of the most important figures in the world of Italian drinks—notably Gaspare Campari (of Campari) and Alessandro Martini (of Martini & Rossi)—would get their starts. And just as the seeds of the American Revolution were sown in our early taverns, the Turinese coffeehouses played host to many of the early intellectual rumblings of the Risorgimento, or the political movement that led to the unification of Italy.

APERITIVI 101

In simple terms, an aperitivo is a beverage meant to open a meal and is broken up into two main sub-categories: bitter liqueurs and aromatized wines. As a category, these liqueurs and wines tend to be lower in alcohol and more mellow in flavor, or are served in a manner (with soda, mixed with wine) that counters their intensity.

BITTER APERITIVO LIQUEURS

This category includes all spirit- or wine-based bitters—typically colored either red, orange or yellow—meant to be consumed before a meal. Generally those that are orange in color (e.g. Aperol) are lower in alcohol, slightly sweeter, and less bitter, while the more ubiquitous red bitters (e.g. Campari) are generally higher in alcohol and more bitter.

AROMATIZED WINES

VERMOUTH • A fortified aromatized wine made by adding a neutral spirit to a low-alcohol wine, then infusing it with spices, roots, and herbs before bottling. European vermouths must contain one of three varieties of wormwood (Artemisia absinthium, Artemisia pontica, or Artemisia maritime) as the main bittering agent. While it comes in a number of styles—depending on geographical origin, base wine, and sweetness— the most iconic style is the original Italian sweet “rosso” vermouth, which originated in Turin in the late 18th century.

CHINATO / QUINQUINA WINE • Similar in style to sweet vermouth, but typified by the infusion of chinchona bark, or quinine, as the bittering agent.

AMERICANO • Similar in style to either bianco or sweet vermouth, but typified by the addition of gentian root (as well as wormwood) as the main bittering agent. By EU law, Americanos can be colored either yellow or red, or not colored at all (e.g. Cocchi Americano).



While the café was a definably social place, the bitter liqueur was considered medicine, often sold based on your ailment. So how, then, did it go from being a cure-all to a symbol of Italian leisure?

“You had a lot of wine being made in the area, and by fortifying it or mixing it with spices and herbs and medicines, it was a whole other product that could be kept longer,” says Rachel Black, an assistant professor of gastronomy at the University of Lyon who’s done extensive research on Italian bitters, in reference to the production of everything from vermouth to chinato (aromatized quinquina wine). “So they created new products and then created a market for them through advertising.” These advertising campaigns didn’t seek to eradicate the medicinal aspect of bitters and vermouth (that still persists today) but to create an association between the products and a social moment—whether it’s before the meal (in the case of vermouth and aperitivo liqueurs) or after a meal (in the case of amari bitter liqueur).

Much of the imagery surrounding the branding of bitters not only featured your standard aspirational, upper-crust vignettes—couple at white-tablecloth restaurant in Edwardian garb, provocative lady sipping daintily from tiny glass—but also contained a “strong dose of forbidden fruit,” writes Mark Spivak in Iconic Spirits. Bitter, after all, is a flavor that represents both poison and antidote (brassicas, anyone?). In one telling Campari ad from 1904 by Marcello Dudovich, the “bitter” appears to be represented by a slick proto-Zorro cloaked in all black, presumably seducing the woman sipping Campari at the bar.

Even Campari’s current press kit plays up the sort of provocation evident in early ads from artists like Dudovich and Leonetto Cappiello, who is famous for his 1921 depiction of a jester climbing out of an orange peel: “With its colour, aroma and flavour, [Campari] has always been a symbol of passion. This passion expresses itself in terms of seduction, sensuality and transgression.”

Transgression. We’ll take two.

During the Futurist era, the commingling of avant-garde contemporary art and iconic advertising artists like Fortunato Depero (who declared that “the art of the future will be largely advertising”) helped further elevate many of these brands from mere medicinal tonics to symbols of Italianism—using imagery that seemed to suggest that, with one sip, sex, power, and freedom could be yours. With this in mind, bitters soon became more than a cure for indigestion shot back with the wince-and-bear-it enthusiasm of a dose of Robitussin. It was the core ingredient in a ritual—the text to this tiny budding religion called aperitivo—and one of the most important ingredients in a new Italian attraction: cocktails.

The birth of cocktail culture in Italy during this period was not merely an appropriation of an American tradition, though. More than drinks, many of the first Italian cocktails—the modern bitter spritz, the Americano, and any number of Futurist cocktails, which adamantly called for the use of only Italian ingredients—were expressions of Italianness, regionality, and, in the case of the Futurist cocktails, an exploration of the contemporary Italian psyche.

Even the evolution of the white spritz to include Italian bitters was, in its own way, an expression of nationalism—an Italianization of a Germanic tradition inherited under imperialist rule. And it’s in this moment, and the prosperous decades to follow after the war, that the spritz became a symbol of leisure and prosperity.





BITTER INTO WINE


By the 1920s, the social ritual of taking an aperitivo—whether Campari and soda, an Americano, or a spritz—had become big business in the north. Capitalizing on the trend, a rash of new products entered the market during this period—most notably, for our purposes, Aperol (1919) and Select (1920), both of which would go on to become the spritz’s most popular bitter companions, along with Cappelletti Aperitivo Americano, aka “Specialino” (1909), Campari (1860), and Cynar (1950s).

THE COCKTAILS OF THE ITALIAN FUTURISTS

Just as the spritz was getting its legs in Northern Italy, Futurist mixology, an offshoot of the Italian Futurist art movement (1909 to 1944) was beginning to find a fervent following. Calling on ingredients both weird and ordinary—from anchovy-stuffed communion wafers to lambrusco to amari— the drinks of the Futurists were often less about ingredients and more about expectations—or rather, the unexpected.

Where the spritz nods to the past and revels in the present, the Futurists radically rejected nostalgia and were bolstered by the Industrial Revolution’s devotion to speed, energy, and individuality. The art of time reflected that—praising achievement over harmony—often resulting in pieces that distorted perspective in an attempt to illustrate dynamism. Somewhat unexpectedly, the principles of the movement manifested in food and drink.

When applied to cocktails—or polibibita, as they called them—the element of surprise formed the basis of Futurist mixology. In keeping with the movement’s mantra, the Futurists sought to reinvent the cocktail as not only modern, but as undeniably Italian, rejecting the use of classic garnishes and eschewing the use of foreign ingredients. But more than anything else—just like the spritz—the movement was about what the cocktail could inspire, socially and psychologically.

In the eyes of the Futurists, a drink was a temporary creation meant to evoke discussion, challenge expectations, and alter sexual desire and performance. For example, cocktails with eggs and spice were thought to lower inhibitions and were categorized as “war in bed,” while “peace in bed” described digestif cocktails meant to warm those who were going home to sleep alone. Outside the bedroom, drinks containing sparkling wine (ahem, spritzes) were “inventive” and meant to inspire the drinker to create, while others were thought to help the drinker resist conformity. Once an all-but-forgotten piece of Italian drink history, Fulvio Piccinino’s Futurist Mixology has not only brought the birth of Italian cocktail culture into relief, but helped explain why classic Italian drinks like the spritz were—and are—more than just drinks.



Primo Franco, the third-generation owner of the famed prosecco producer Nino Franco, recalls that when he was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, the addition of a bitter liqueur to the classic white spritz was still “just a few drops,” and was offered as a spritz upgrade. “You’d see a regular spritz on the menu and then a spritz con l’amaro at a higher price; it was the luxury version of the spritz,” says Franco. Then it was merely a combination of still white wine, soda, and a dash of bitter—a far cry, says Franco, from the heavy dose that’s now common in the spritz.

While Aperol looms large as the primary bitter liqueur used in the modern spritz, its dominance is a fairly recent phenomenon. Prior to the 1980s, when many of the bitters brands that once had a foothold in the market began to lose ground—from Rosso Antico to Gancia Americano—the spritz varied more widely from city to city, even from bar to bar, in northeast Italy. Today, some of these regional loyalties still persist. If you are in Venice your spritz will often be served with Select; in Padua it’s Aperol; in Brescia it might be Cappelletti Aperitivo, and so on.

Just as there are a million tiny rituals in Italy, there are also a million tiny allegiances. “Which bitters do you prefer in the spritz?” is basically like asking, “Which soccer team is the best in Italy?” Even the precise manner in which the spritz is assembled (ice first, then prosecco, then bitters, and then soda) is not a joking matter.

Many point to Select, which was created by the Pilla company on the island of Murano (of blown-glass fame) just outside Venice in 1920, as the first bitter that found its way into the white spritz. In the 1920s and 1930s, Select ran a number of very successful ad campaigns—featuring famous Italian actors and actresses of the day claiming that it was the best aperitif in the world—that helped bolster its loyal foothold in Venice and surrounding cities. By the time Leonida Zarri, of the brandy producer Villa Zarri, purchased Pilla in the 1950s, Select was the company’s most important brand, and the spritz con l’amaro—according to Guido Zarri, Leonida’s grandson and the current head of Villa Zarri—was already an embedded fixture in Venetian bacari.

This spritz formula, a mixture of still white wine, soda, and a bitter liqueur, remains a consistent local ritual from Trieste to Brescia and beyond. But the spritz underwent one more important evolution in the 1990s, when prosecco—which by then was a market force in and outside Italy—began to replace still wine.

“The phenomenon of prosecco really happens at the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s,” says producer Primo Franco, referring to the rise of the bubbly Italian wine as a global brand. Much of this had to do with the widespread introduction of the Charmat method—a means of creating sparkling wine by allowing it to undergo second fermentation in a tank rather than in the bottle, as in méthode champenoise or méthode ancestrale. This tank method generally produces wines of less complexity and longevity—but that was precisely the point.

“Prosecco became a lifestyle in the sense that it was an elegant wine, but a wine you can have every day,” says Franco, referring to the sparkler’s light flavor profile and affordability, especially in comparison to Champagne—hence its “poor man’s Champagne” reputation.

With the advent of the tank method, the majority of the wines coming out of the region were sparkling (before this, Primo Franco estimates that half of the prosecco sold was still, or at least still by the time it reached the bar) and exported in greater quantities, carving out a bigger culture of sparkling wine consumption in Venice and surrounding cities, including the area’s beach resorts.

It was here, on the beach, that the spritz met prosecco.

According to Vito Casoni, who spent twenty years as the marketing director for Aperol, prosecco and ice (the latter often absent from the spritz before this) became part of the spritz equation on the beaches and in the bars around Venice—notably Bar Capannina in Lido di Jesolo—in the mid-1990s. “They started to use a bigger glass to fit the ice cubes and replace still wine with prosecco,” Casoni says. “The success of this was immediate.” Seizing on the local popularity of this new version of the spritz, which was longer, colder, bubblier, and fancier (it was now routinely being served in a larger white wine glass rather than a rocks glass), Aperol focused its attention on marketing the brand via the spritz. And the rest, as they say, is history.





THE SPRITZ AS GLOBAL PHENOMENON


While the spritz had been the most popular aperitivo drink in the Veneto and many parts of Friuli and Alto Adige for decades, it’s not until Aperol began marketing the spritz in the 1990s that it went from being a mostly local ritual to Italy’s most popular cocktail.

“The spritz is not a global phenomenon,” says Leonardo Leuci, one of the owners of Rome’s lauded craft cocktail bar The Jerry Thomas Project. “Aperol Spritz is a global phenomenon.”

When Aperol first began marketing the drink in the 1990s, the spritz made up “10 percent of the sales volume of Aperol,” says Casoni. Today it is the primary way in which Aperol is consumed, worldwide.

By the late 1990s, Casoni began marketing the Aperol Spritz to other parts of Italy by traveling to bars from Florence to Rome and farther south, to teach the new prosecco-and-ice recipe. During this period, Italy was still dealing with the aftershocks of a 1980s countrywide campaign to curb alcohol consumption—and in a way the Aperol Spritz, at a maximum of 8 to 10 percent alcohol, was the perfect compromise. Between the late 1990s and the launch of the first Aperol Spritz campaign on Italian national television in 2007, sales of Aperol doubled.

The first ad campaign ran as a short spot with two women in a Fiat who get boxed into a small square filled with young people drinking spritzes; the bartender eyes the ladies and crowd-surfs two spritzes—made with soda, Aperol, and prosecco, of course—to them through their sunroof. “There was no sex or love story—just simple people,” says Casoni. Just simple, good-looking people drinking in the town square during the day—no jobs, no responsibilities. Just spritz. It ends with a question, which carries far more significance now than it did then: “Spritz Life?”

“Yes,” it turns out, was the universal answer.

Aperol’s success in exporting the spritz all over Italy (and beyond) lies in the genius of translating the spritz culture of the north and the symbolism of the drink as a modern, tangible incarnation of the la dolce vita of the 1950s and 1960s—or, “as a symbol of wealth and prosperity of the urban people,” says Roberto Pasini, author of Guida allo Spritz—to a new generation. “The lifestyle is simple,” Pasini says, referring specifically to the culture of aperitivo and spritz in the Veneto. “Drink a lot, but drink well; don’t hurry; and don’t worry about your hangover—people around will understand you.”





ICE. PROSECCO. BITTERS. SODA. Olive. Orange slice. Clink, fizz, splash, fizz, splash. At 7:00 p.m., that is the sound of Italy.

A drink that hit its stride amidst The Italian Miracle, a period of economic growth following World War II, the modern spritz is something of a sociological oddity—a vestige of la dolce vita and the see-and-be-seen cosmopolitanism of midcentury aperitivo, exported with flagrant democracy to a new generation that knows nothing of economic miracles. The “spritz life,” or #spritzlife as it were, is a “revision of that era,” says Fabio Parasecoli, an associate professor of food studies at The New School.

La dolce vita if only for an hour.

The word aperitivo is derived from the Latin aperire, which means “to open.” It refers, plainly, to the ritual of taking a drink—nowadays with snacks—to open one’s stomach before a meal. It is Italy’s take on happy hour. But it is also, as Roberto Bava, the managing director of Cocchi, points out, “an attitude”—a devil-may-care moment in the day when the Italian Dream (one not unlike America’s, just with less working) seems a little more tangible.

If you stumble into any bacaro in Venice during the golden hours, or into Turin’s Piazza San Carlo, or Milan’s Navigli, you will find variations on the same scene—a sea of orange and red spilling out onto the street, clouds of cigarette smoke, and café tables littered with tiny plates of crostini, potato chips, and olives. How, we wondered, did everyone simultaneously agree to do this every day? To meet at the same place and drink the same drink, at the same time, like loyal employees clocking in just to hang out?

In the early spring, we made our way from the Veneto to Milan to Turin, along our own northern spritz crawl, four humans and their luggage crammed into a Fiat 500 like a version of National Lampoon’s Vacation in which the Griswolds trade their Wagon Queen Family Truckster for a Little Tike’s Cozy Coupe. All in the name of finding out.

As Americans raised with the urban promise of never having to do one thing twice, we tend to regard routine as a synonym for resignation. But Italy is a country made up of a million tiny rituals that crisscross into a repeating pattern, which plays out like a never-ending run of a Broadway musical. By 8:00 a.m., it’s the whistle of the espresso machine against the staccato of cups hitting saucers, a woman yelling something-or-other from a third-floor window as she pins sheets to a clothesline, while bicycle bells chirp like a gaggle of earlybirds announcing the day.

By 1:00 p.m., the ensemble emerges again. Waiters thread through outdoor tables, carrying steaming plates of pasta, the vibration of the customers’ chatter punctuated by the swish of a wine bottle being pulled from an ice bucket. A thousand Lambrettas hum in the distance, providing the midday rhythm, until espresso cups meet saucers again and the masses retreat.

It’d be easy to write these scenes off as cliché if they weren’t so pervasive in so many Italian cities. It’s as if the whole country cast a vote on what its day should look like, asking only that it unfold with the kind of grace uncommon to two humans perpetually buffed out by the friction of New York.

In the fluid hustle and flow of the typical Italian day, there is arguably no time more triumphant than the golden hours, when the crowds emerge again, descending upon bars and squares in a crescendo that’s a pack of tie-dye-and-denim-swaddled hippies away from the “Age of Aquarius” scene in Hair. They nibble on tramezzini (tiny crustless sandwiches) and crostini topped with everything from figs and chicken livers to baccalà mantecato, spritz in hand, turning piazzas into their very own urban living rooms.

Describing Venice’s St. Mark’s Square in a 1938 article for Corriere della Sera’s monthly magazine, La Lettura, entitled “Omaggio All’Aperitivo” (“Tribute to the Aperitif”), the author might as well be describing a scene today, detailing passengers descending from vaporetti (water taxis), while sirens hiss and the “waiter lines up battery after battery of shimmering glasses.” And for a moment, “everything on land and water seems to glimmer more than ever.”

It’s that glimmer that seems to live inside the spritz, like a snow globe that’s trapped the life you’d really like to have. A life spent sitting out in tables lining the narrow canals in Venice’s Canareggio neighborhood as the sun gets drowsy and the waterways turn into glassy two-way mirrors, a life where the long-lost era of gilded Venetian prosperity is merely a partition away. It’s practically a matter of ordinance that the spritz became the modern icon of aperitivo.

“Spritz Life?” asks Aperol at the end of its inaugural spritz campaign.

Who could say no?





APERITIVO TO THE PEOPLE


How far back the ritual of aperitivo goes really depends on how you define it. The Italians would be pleased about our invoking the Romans here, and it would not be false. The Romans did indeed have their own tradition of drinking wine flavored with herbs and spices to alleviate indigestion or other ills. And by medieval times, the term aperitivus had come to refer to anything, food or drink, that had the effect of stimulating the appetite, often including certain plants that were either cooked or mulled into wine. They kept the ritual alive, albeit amidst excessive violence and the history’s most devastating pandemic.

Not exactly la dolce vita, but still.

It was during the Renaissance that the first seeds of modern aperitivo were sown. Catherine de Médici, the Italian noblewoman who went on to marry King Henry II of France, was well known for her party-planning skills and, ultimately, her influence on French dining culture. When she arrived in the French court, she apparently brought her cooks, produce, tableware, manners, recipes, flair, and the social ritual of the pre-dinner drink with her. It was here that aperitivo became associated with the higher classes and typified by the ritual consumption of wine infused with herbs and sweetened primarily with honey.

But the social rite of Italian aperitivo as we know it today was born in the northwest as something of an urban manifestation of the rural Piedmontese tradition of merenda sinoira—sometimes referred to simply as merenda, meaning “snack” in Piedmontese dialect—wherein workers coming out from a day in the fields would join their families and colleagues for a sunset snack usually consisting of various cold foods, like salami and cheese, served outside with wine. The tradition usually ran through the farming season, from spring to early autumn, and eventually spread to noblemen and women who would practice a similar ritual when visiting their countryside villas in the summer.





With the birth of vermouth—often credited as the original aperitivo drink—in the late eighteenth century, a culture of pre-dinner consumption began to grow up in the aromatized wine’s hometown of Turin. But this was still largely a rite of the rich, as vermouth was, throughout much of the nineteenth century, considered un vino bianco di lusso, or a “luxury white wine,” as Alfio Durso Pennisi’s Dizionario Enologico (1910) describes it.

While it remained an upper-class affair, aperitivo had, by the early twentieth century, taken root in Milan, Genoa, Venice, and beyond. “From noon to one and nineteen to twenty it’s practically impossible to cross [Milan’s] Galleria without being seized by a friend eager to offer an aperitif,” writes the author of that same 1938 article in La Lettura. By this time the cities had also developed their own respective aperitivo vibes—something that persists today. Milan’s Galleria was “ecumenical and bourgeois,” Rome’s Via Veneto had “an easy spirit,” while Turin’s scene—housed beneath the city’s famous portici, or classical porticos—was “dignified and chatty.” If you really wanted to get the full effect of aperitivo, you had to head to Venice’s St. Mark’s Square, where “even the pigeons, it seems, are enchanting.”

In the years following the World War II—once Mussolini’s fascist government had been overthrown and Italy entered that famous period of economic growth—aperitivo became the collective, democratic social ritual it is today. The dream of Italy that took form in those Turinese coffeehouses during the middle-to-late nineteenth century of a unified, prosperous Italy had finally taken hold. It’s this era that bore the cultural kaleidoscope through which we still view Italy—all Lambrettas and Vespas, white linen, and Portofino; the Italy of Fellini and the era of “Hollywood on the Tiber.” This vision of the country is still exported (even to Italians) with the same tinge of exoticism reserved for tiki culture or the samba. And in a way, it’s this same vision of Italy that was repackaged for a new generation of drinkers in the 1990s.





THE SPRITZ TRAIL


Venice, it turns out, had no use for our tiny Fiat coupe. This is a walking city, and it’s a good thing, because there is a real reason why the Venetians are regarded as some of Italy’s most enthusiastic drinkers: they can drink.

Around two hundred sixty thousand people call the Floating City home, while an estimated twenty-two million pass through it each year. But despite the odds, the spritz life still feels most deeply ingrained, and best preserved in its true form, here. There are very few apericena buffets (the much-maligned mutation of aperitivo into cena, or dinner, featuring mostly cheap, low-quality food) and almost no overwrought cocktails outside the hotels; even updates on classic cicchetti (small bites, mean to be consumed at a bar) hew closely to, or riff off of, traditional Venetian recipes. And while food is not included in the price of your drink, as it generally is in Turin and Milan, a spritz will run you around three euros and accompanying cicchetti rarely crest over a euro or two.

Aperitivo hour is arguably at its finest in Canareggio—which feels a world away from St. Mark’s selfie sticks and packs of German tourists dressed as if ready, at any moment, to scale a cliff. As the sun began to set, we piled into any number of bacari, like Al Timon—a kinetic little spot that makes its bones during the golden hours serving plates piled high with crostini anointed with toppings like smoked mozzarella and tomatoes, baccalà mantecato, and chicken livers, all of it washed down with spritz al bitter after spritz al bitter. And then it’s on to the next one.

Like the tapas tradition in Spain—moving from bar to bar sampling a few small bites at each—aperitivo in Venice is best experienced as a moveable (mostly liquid) feast. Or, as the Venetians call it, giro di ombre, which refers both to a round of drinks (ombre is a dialectical word for glass of wine or drink) and the act of taking aperitivo in rounds—spreading it between a couple of bacari and letting it last as long as you can stand. (Tradition dictates that if you want to make it to dinner, you best limit the number of people you’re rolling with—each person in your group counts as one round.)





“[In Venice], teetotalers have great social problems,” says Michela Scibila, a Venice native and the author of a number of guides to the city’s wine bars and restaurants. No joke. We quickly acquired the hangovers to prove it.

From Venice and on through the spritz’s other two Veneto strongholds—Treviso (capital of prosecco) and Padua (home of Aperol)—you’ll find the same talent for drinking and a similar passion for aperitivo.

These surrounding regions hew relatively closely to Venetian tradition, with a few departures. In Padua, for example, you’ll often find slight variations of the spritz that include everything from Aperol to Cynar to Campari to Select to gin. Some even go so far as to assert that a true Paduan spritz features a combination of all five (god help those people).

Further north along the spritz trail, the variation that used to be much more common before the spritz became synonymous with Aperol still persists. Amidst the Dolomites, in Alto Adige, the spritz even loses its bitter altogether, subbing in acqua santa (holy water), which refers to an elderflower cordial that’s often made locally by allowing the flowers and sugar to ferment in the sun. It’s used in the Hugo Spritz—a simple mixture of elderflower syrup, mint, prosecco, and soda, garnished with a lemon—the second most popular spritz behind the classic Venetian formula.

Down from the mountains and through Brescia, the locals call their spritz pirlo, which, in the Brescian dialect, means “fall,” referring to the way the red bitter descends through the drink and to the bottom of the glass. Brescia is a Lombardian town just west of Lake Garda and about an hour by car from Milan, where Cappelletti’s red bitter—which originated just after World War I and is commonly referred to in the area as Specialino—has maintained a stronghold. It’s typically consumed with white wine and soda as a variation on the Bicicletta— a popular Campari-based Milanese version of the spritz invented in the 1930s.

It’s in Milan that the pre-dinner scene shifts drastically. We had our first Milanese spritz at Armani Café (yes, that Armani), a half-serious stop on our planned route, where you’ll find your reflection in every surface and no shortage of studded and bedazzled attire.

We wouldn’t dare judge Milan from this vantage point, but as a cosmopolitan town that’s provided the industrial heartbeat of Italy for decades, there’s no denying that it’s a severe, hulking city in comparison to Venice and its environs. But it’s true that beneath the facade there is more energy for the new than anywhere else in Italy—which is why aperitivo has strayed so far from tradition here, both in form and purpose.

“Milano is really the only city in Italy where aperitivo is a mix of pleasure and business at the same time,” says Maurizio Stocchetto, the owner of Bar Basso, one of Milan’s most famous and traditional bars and the birthplace of the Negroni’s bubbly cousin, the Negroni Sbagliato.

All mirrors and gold, emerald velvet, and vintage glassware, Bar Basso had us rubbing elbows with marketing men in suits, women who looked like they’d rolled out of a Dolce & Gabbana display window, old men, tourists, and a few sophisticated university students.

The bar swells, starting around 6:30 p.m., to two- or three-deep, a cabinet full of crostini and tramezzini are discharged to the tables and bar tops with rapid fire, while Negronis and their Sbagliato siblings are served in handblown goblets the size of pineapples.

Beyond legendary bars like Bar Basso and Caffé Camparino (a glittering art nouveau bar in the Galleria), Milan’s aperitivo trail twists and turns through spots serving everything from sushi to crudité, from spritzes and sbagliatos to craft cocktails that could’ve been plucked from any number of urban American menus. Milan is the only city where that pattern of tiny rituals is constantly being unraveled, and then raveled again.





But less than two hours away to the west, the clock seems determined to stop. Turin is a city that is as notorious for its stuck-in-time nature as Venice is for hitting the bottle. The capital of coffee and chocolate, and the former seat of the Savoy Kingdom, it feels more like a French city—hence its “little Paris” nickname—than an Italian one, with its baroque architecture, grand portico–encased walkways, and wide boulevards.

Culturally, it’s just as baroque. Its people are regarded as being among Italy’s most traditional, many of them taking their aperitivo in the same grandiose bars—Caffé Mulassano, Caffé Turin, Caffé San Carlo—that Turin residents frequented a century ago. And in a manner so dignified that it feels downright antimodern.

Fittingly, of all the northern Italian cities, there is no place where aperitivo is quite as grand. While Turin isn’t immune to the budget apericena deluge of soggy pizzetta and yesterday’s pasta, it’s here that a more buttoned-up sort of buffet spread has its longest history. Tiered platters piled with tiny stuzzichini, or “finger foods,” coiffed Turinese bathed in yellow light sipping spritz and vermouth—it’s a scene that likely would have made Catherine de Médici proud. “Under the portici,” the scene, it turns out, is indeed, “dignified and chatty.” And it’s fitting to have put our coupe to rest under those portici, where the ritual of aperitivo that bore the modern spritz began.

So, you might ask, all of this running around for just one drink? But who wouldn’t want to chase the drink that symbolizes, for much of Italy, that all-important transition from work to play?

It’s a drink splashed together with a rakish dedication to leisure, and one served during a sacred time of day that asks nothing except, says Roberto Bava of Cocchi, “that you be yourself.” And after one or two—like a beloved friend or trusted companion—the spritz’s bewitching plea to pause and drink draws out the best in all of us. Because who isn’t better, and perhaps more oneself, with a spritz in hand?





IN VENICE, THE SPIRITUAL home of the spritz, there are no house-conceived twists on the old-fashioned, curious margaritas, or midori-infused variations on the martini (unless you happen to be at a hotel or an establishment with a doorman and electronic dance music spilling out from inside, in which case: avoid). Instead, there is simply an assembly line of prosecco, soda water, and bitter liqueurs combined by the slapdash dozen with a spraying soda gun and speed pourer. And your drink is always, without fail, punctuated with a skewered olive or a slice of orange plunging to the bottom with a bubbling plunk. Serious only in its insistent daily presence, the purest spritz is made by feel, gut instinct, and experimentation. Yet, in order to offer insight into its evolution and architecture—no matter how resistant to the jigger—there must be a set of rules for building it.





HOW TO SPRITZ


FIRST • A spritz is always effervescent. Whether its bubble is acquired through soda water, prosecco, some other sparkling wine, or a flavored soda, the spritz would not be a spritz without buoyancy.

SECOND • A spritz is low in alcohol, which, for our purposes, means that it should contain no more than one ounce of strong spirits (preferably less). 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.



Within this chapter, we offer models that follow the aformentioned rules, from classic to modern to a smattering of oddball cousins and back again. We remind you, of course, that these are simply jumping-off points for creating a spritz. If an ingredient is absent from your bar, try a substitute—Cocchi Americano for bianco vermouth, lime juice for lemon juice, or tonic water for quinquina wine, and so on—because the true spirit of the spritz requires a bit of homegrown curiosity for what might happen if you stretch the rules just a little bit.





PROSECCO 101

Prosecco is oft-maligned as being the ubiquitous, cheap cousin of Champagne—the kind of sparkling wine that’s fueled many a bottomless brunch. It’s true that a deluge of cheap prosecco began cascading into the United States in the 1980s and into the 1990s, when restaurants like Cipriani began pouring the stuff directly into the mouths of celebrities and the linen-clad set. It’s since become something of a global lifestyle brand, much of this owed to its production process, called the Charmat method—a means of creating sparkling wine by allowing it to undergo its second fermentation in a tank rather than in the bottle, which is the way true Champagne is made. This tank method, which is much less time-consuming and more affordable, generally produces wines of less complexity and longevity, which is precisely why prosecco ended up in nightclubs, bars, and pretty much every place alcohol is served from New York to Hong Kong. But the wines do have a more serious side.

The finest proseccos come from the DOCG zone, which stretches from the town of Conegliano to Valdobbiadene, and covers fifty thousand acres of steep, terraced vineyards that rise up from the road like verdant amphitheaters. While the majority of the region’s sparkling wines—all produced from the white Glera grape—are made using the Charmat method, the last half decade has seen a very welcome redux of prosecco col fondo (which translates to “with its bottom” or “with its sediment”), the old-school cloudy style of bottle-fermented bubbly that’s released without the lees being removed. While not a typical companion for the spritz, the col fondo style has captured the attention of the wine world’s avant-garde as a more traditional, and very often more compelling, expression of the region.

SPRITZ GO-TOS

When spritzing, you’ll typically want to look for a dry prosecco made using the Charmat method; those clean, bright pear notes and sheer slammability are paramount here. So is quality. Just because you’re mixing doesn’t mean you can get away with a suspect bottle of bubbly. In many of the classic and modern spritz formulas, prosecco makes up the majority of the drink, and—plain and simple—the better the prosecco, the better the drink. Below are three producers who make top-quality Charmat-method prosecco.

NINO FRANCO • For three generations the Franco family has been making some of the best prosecco out there. While the single-cru bottlings are worth seeking out on their own, the Rustico bottling is our favorite all-purpose prosecco and clocks in at just $15 per bottle.

SORELLE BRONCA • The sisters Bronca are some of the region’s most conscientious growers and producers. They tend organically-farmed hillside vineyards in Conegliano, which feeds their range of proseccos. At the top end is one of the region’s best Charmat wines, Particella 68, along with a limited col fondo bottling. For our everyday purposes both the Extra Dry ($17) and the Brut ($17), which, confusingly enough, has a touch more residual sugar than the Extra Dry, are both excellent.

ADAMI • Like Nino Franco, Adami produces a significant volume of prosecco, but the quality level remains very high. Known at the top end for their Vigneto Giardino bottling, they also offer the affordable and widely available Garbèl ($14) and Bosco di Gica ($14), which both play nice in any spritz.

COL FONDO

Some of the most exciting wines in the region are being made in this style. Here are a few worth seeking out:

Casa Coste Piane Prosecco Valdobbiadene “Sur Lie” NV | $24

Ca dei Zago Col Fondo Prosecco NV | $20

Bele Casel Col Fondo Prosecco Asolo DOCG NV | $18

Zanotto Col Fondo Prosecco NV | $22

Costadilà Prosecco Colli Trevigiani NV | $21





SPRITZ STYLES


Throughout the recipe section we’ve categorized spritzes as either Classic, Modern, or Cousins.





Classic


The most traditional spritzes are those that originate along Italy’s spritz trail—from Trieste to Turin. They’re the simplest of the formulas, containing just a few ingredients: wine or prosecco, soda water, a bit of citrus, and a bitter element like Aperol, Campari, or in some cases, an amaro like Cynar. The classic spritzes evolved regionally and are topped with a distinguishing garnish; their bitters are determined by a particular allegiance to one local brand or another. All of the spritzes that make up the classic canon—from the Venetian Spritz to the Negroni Sbagliato—are still drunk in their respective homes, like a daily prayer to the aperitivo gods.





Modern


Once the Italian version of the spritz hit the U.S. and beyond, bartenders took note and began mixing their own versions of the iconic cocktail. These modern drinks still adhere closely to the classic template for the spritz but they prove that there are dozens of possible combinations within that format, especially when bred with classic cocktails whose spirit base can be swapped out for sparkling wine. The modern spritz takes cues from its predecessors but draws on new garnishes, fresh juices, and alternatives to the classic Italian liqueurs that commonly find their way into the spritz.





Cousins


The cousins of the spritz are so called because they aren’t necessarily made up of the exact same DNA. While they maintain the same philosophical sensibilities (bitter, low-alcohol, bubbly), they do so with unorthodox ingredients (egg whites, beer, muddled fruit) that pull them off the beaten path. Spritzes in camouflage, they share the same ethos as a classic or modern iteration.





BUILDING A SPRITZ BAR


The essential spritz bar is a spare one, requiring only the elements detailed in “How to Spritz”—namely, something bubbly and something bitter, with a wine base, which can be anything from still white wine to prosecco to vermouth to sherry. Beyond the essentials, there are a number of highly recommended additions—from syrups to shrubs to a greater selection of liqueurs—that can easily add another layer of complexity to the spritz.

But even if you haven’t begun to acquire these ingredients, you probably have the makings of a spritz on hand. Given the up-for-anything nature of the drink, anything on one’s bar—Angostura bitters to Barolo Chinato—is fair game. But take heed: not all experiments will result in deliciousness, we can assure you of that. Though it invites experimentation, the spritz requires a feel for flavor pairing and the necessary grace to understand that sometimes less is more. Often, the simplest spritzes are the most alluring.

Following is a brief list of recommended necessities with suggestions for the advanced home bar or bartender.





Bubbles


SODA WATER • The Soda Stream is your best bet to ensure an endless supply of charged soda water. Newer models allow for the user to gauge the level of carbonation, and the spritz is always best at its most bubbly. In terms of store-bought soda water, Canada Dry’s aggressive carbonation is a great baseline, but any carbonated water will do.

SPARKLING WINE • While prosecco is the spritz’s bubbly best friend, any sparkling wine is fair game. For a spritz that has the bulk and structure to stand up to cold weather, look to lambrusco. If you’re seeking an extra layer of complexity from your bubbly wine—especially when pairing with minimal ingredients that allow the wine to shine—Crémant d’Alsace, which is an affordable alternative to Champagne and is made in the same method, will add a note of yeasty umami flavor.

TONIC WATER • Our go-to is always Fever Tree, which is notable for its subtle spice, dry finish, and ability to play well with other ingredients. Tonic syrups, like Jack Rudy or Tomr’s, are also quite versatile, but they will most likely include more intense herbal and spice flavors, so try them out in small amounts before committing to a generous dose. Also, keep in mind that most commercial tonic waters lean toward sweet and overpowering, so if Canada Dry or Schweppes is all you’ve got on hand, be prepared to use less tonic and to supplement with soda water.





Aperitivo Liqueurs


For more on aperitivi, turn to the “Aperitivi 101” box.

CAMPARI • In 1860, Gaspare Campari conceived the bitterest of the red liqueurs in Novara. He eventually moved to Milan, where the liqueur grew to fame at his Caffé Campari, which opened in 1867. Composed of a mix of proprietary spices and herbs, grain spirit, and sugar, Campari has since become synonymous with Italian cocktails like the Americano and the Negroni. Ranging from 20 to 28 percent ABV (depending on the country), Campari is bracingly bitter, a bit spicy, and infused with a strong taste of bitter orange.

CONTRATTO BITTER • With a base of grape brandy derived from Italian Barbera grapes, Piedmont-based Contratto’s red bitter liqueur has its origins in a recipe from 1933. It’s similar to Campari in that it’s best used in drinks like the Americano and Negroni, but is less aggressively bitter and sweet with a more subtle, herbal backbone owing to a cold maceration of twenty-four different spices and herbs including aloe, hibiscus, wormwood, and juniper. It’s colored naturally with beets and has an ABV of 22 percent.

CAPPELLETTI APERITIVO AMERICANO • Part of Eric Seed’s Haus Alpenz portfolio in the United States, Cappelletti is a trebbiano wine–based Americano that combines both sweet and bitter in what is essentially a ready-to-drink cocktail base. It’s been made near Trento at the base of the Dolomites since the early twentieth century, where it’s known and bottled as Specialino. Given its oxidized wine base, Cappelletti drinks like a combination of a red bitter and vermouth—all vanilla, sweet grapefruit, and bitter orange—and is a dream ingredient if you like your spritzes with a bit more junk in the trunk.

APEROL • Though Aperol defies the red bitter category with its orange hue and sweeter flavor profile, it still contains the subtle bitter element that the spritz requires. First created in 1919 by the Barbieri brothers in Padua, the 11 percent ABV liqueur’s secret recipe has, purportedly, remained unchanged for the past century. The main flavor here is sweet grapefruit with aromas of rhubarb and orange.

CONTRATTO APERITIF • Colored with natural carrot and beet extracts, Contratto aperitif is made from a recipe that dates back to 1935. At 13.5 percent ABV, this orange bitter (similar in style to Aperol) is brandy-based, infused with everything from wormwood to angelica to orange to juniper, and pleasantly bittersweet and herbaceous.

COCCHI AMERICANO • Born in Asti in 1891, Cocchi Americano is an aromatized wine steeped with bitter orange, cinchona bark, and gentian. It’s slightly bittersweet with citrus, floral, and herbal notes, and is pale straw yellow in color. Though it’s been on the market continuously since its conception, it’s seen a surge in popularity since the 1970s, when the Bava family took over production.

LILLET BLANC AND ROSÉ • Born in Bordeaux in the 1870s, Lillet once referred to Kina Lillet, a quinine-fortified aperitif wine, which eventually fell out of fashion before evolving into, simply, Lillet. Both expressions are made from Sémillion grapes and offer enough sweetness and viscosity to add real texture to a spritz. While the blanc skews more golden and honeyed, the rosé is fresh with notes of berry and citrus.

PUNT E MES • Somewhere between a red bitter, a vermouth, and an amaro, Punt e Mes is the Piedmontese equivalent to a proto-bottled cocktail. It was originally made by the Carpano family (of vermouth fame) starting in the late nineteenth century, and is now owned by Fratelli Branca (which is perhaps most famous for its bracingly bitter Fernet Branca). Punt e mes means “one point and a half,” which supposedly refers to one part sweet and half part bitter, a phrase which was mirrored and requested by patrons with the gesture of one finger and a thumb.

SUZE • Bitter and herbaceous, Suze is a bright yellow nineteenth-century French aperitif flavored with wild gentian root. At 15 percent ABV, it slides into the bitter category with a less astringent flavor profile but works in the same manner when paired with white wine, prosecco, stone fruits, and citrus.

GRAN CLASSICO • Golden brown and flavored with a proprietary mix of herbs and spices including gentian, wormwood, and hyssop, this Swiss-produced aperitif has a bitter bite softened with its herbaceous and caramel-driven backbone. It’s most often used as a substitute for Campari.

AMARI • These bitter herbal Italian liqueurs, usually reserved for after a meal thanks to their dark and heavier profile, appear in many of the following recipes thanks to the bite and viscosity lent by sugar and time in the barrel. We recommend stocking Cynar, an artichoke-based formula that’s dark but balanced; Braulio, an Alpine amaro with a distinct pine and menthol flavor; and Averna, a sweeter but versatile Sicilian amaro, that works well with brown spirits. We also love Amaro Montenegro (sweeter and mellow) and Amaro Nardini (higher-proof, minty, and intense).





Wine and Fortified Wine


WINE • The most accessible spritz of all—the white wine spritzer—consists of simply a pour of basic white wine mixed with soda water and, if you’re feeling fancy, a slice of citrus. Many establishments in Italy still use white wine for their Aperol Spritz instead of prosecco, relying on soda water to add the sparkle. When it comes to still whites, opt for something acidic with just enough stuffing to add texture—like Soave from Italy. When a spritz calls for red wine, a full-bodied red with minimal oak influence—like an un-oaked Cabernet from just about anywhere—does the trick.

SHERRY • Dry styles of sherry, notably fino, manzanilla, and amontillado, are excellent alternatives to the classic white wine base. Fino and manzanilla are both dry and saline, offering a savory note and bit of perceived acidity, while amontillado offers the same dryness with a kick of oxidation.

VERMOUTH • The original vermouth—a fortified wine aromatized with herbs and spices—was conceived by herbalist Antonio Benedetto Carpano in Turin in 1786. As it became commercially available in the early nineteenth century, Carpano (and many other budding brands like Martini & Rossi) was served in Turin’s cafes, helping shape the tradition and ritual of aperitivo. There are a number of vermouth styles beyond those listed below, but these are a solid base to build on when considering your spritz bar.

DRY VERMOUTH • Synonymous with French vermouth, dry vermouth is exactly what it sounds like: dry, spicy, and slightly herbal. Created by Noilly Prat in Marseilles in the early 1800s, the style is now produced by most major vermouth houses. Our favorite dry vermouth brands are Dolin Dry, Noilly Prat, and the newer Carpano Dry.

SWEET VERMOUTH • Sweet Vermouth implies either Vermouth di Torino (which is the original vermouth and is geographically protected) or a vermouth made in the spicy Turin style. Recommended are Carpano Antica, a centuries-old vanilla-forward recipe from Turin; Cocchi di Torino, a classic formula containing a moscato base; and Dolin Rouge, a Chambéry-style (i.e., drier and lighter) take on sweet vermouth.





VERMOUTH BIANCO/BLANC • Bianco or blanc vermouth is a type of white sweet vermouth that was created in Chambéry, France (the only other town outside of Turin whose vermouths are geographically protected), in 1821. Generally more floral than its red counterparts, bianco or blanc vermouth is best when balanced with herbal flavors and citrus. We love Contratto Bianco, Dolin Blanc, and Carpano Bianco.





Fruit Liqueurs, Syrups, Shrubs, and Infusions


The simplest way to add viscosity and flavor to a basic spritz is to integrate seasonal flavors. Outside of the raw ingredient itself, fruit liqueurs are the most readily available and shelf-stable ingredients to translate fruit flavor to a drink. While most liqueurs on the market are flavor facsimiles (like red-flavored Skittles) and are usually the color of neon crayons, Giffard, a French spirits company that dates back to the nineteenth century, makes pure fruit liqueurs that are widely available across the United States. We use their Pamplemousse Rose (pink grapefruit), Crème de Frais des Bois (wild strawberry), and Framboise (raspberry) the most.

Though bottled liqueurs are available year round (and last nearly forever), their fresh, homemade counterparts are an invaluable addition to the spritz arsenal, capturing the truest essence of a season, fruit, or herb. Both syrups and shrubs (vinegar-based syrups) have the ability to brighten a cocktail with only a dash or two, turning a one-dimensional drink into something far more complex.

On the same note, infusing or steeping a spirit base or vermouth with an herb, spice, or fruit provides an extra layer of flavor, translated best through white vermouths, lighter aromatized wines, or clear spirits (see Basil-Infused Dolin Blanc or Caraway-Infused Cocchi Americano). Though the extra step of infusion may seem like a hassle, it takes only a little forethought and a minute or two of preparation. On the next page, find ideas for syrups and shrubs that go well in a spritz.





Still drunk daily in their birthplaces like an offering to Italy’s aperitivo gods, the classics are the simplest, most traditional of spritz formulas: wine, soda water, and bitter.





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GLASS rocks or wine glass • GARNISH olive and orange half-wheel





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Bitter Liqueur, Prosecco

The spritz that launched a thousand spritzes, the Venetian Spritz is made with a range of bitter liqueurs, including the ubiquitous…


Classic





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GLASS rocks • GARNISH orange half-wheel





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Campari, Sweet Vermouth, Prosecco

The legendary Bar Basso in Milan (which originally opened in 1933 and moved to its current space in 1947) claims…


Classic





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GLASS wine glass • GARNISH seasonal citrus, herbs, or fruit





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Dry White Wine, Lemon Syrup

The first vestige of spritz ancestry, the white spritz or spritz liscio was likely—as the Italian mythos goes—born in Hapsburg…


Classic





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GLASS wine glass • GARNISH lemon half-wheel





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Campari, White Wine

Either a white spritz with the addition of Campari or a Venetian Spritz that calls for white wine instead of prosecco, the Bicicletta…

Classic





Built with the same blueprint as the classics, modern spritzes embrace alternative spirits and liqueurs, more diverse garnishes, fresh juices, and the architecture of other classic drink families.





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GLASS wine glass • GARNISH lemon half-wheel and mint sprig





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Rosé, Cocchi Americano, Papaya Shrub, Prosecco

GABRIEL ORTA & ELAD ZVI Broken Shaker, Miami, FL

The sunshine-soaked cult of rosé has finally reached fever pitch and is now making regular appearances in cocktails all over…

Modern





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GLASS rocks • GARNISH blood orange wheel





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Cappelletti, Blood Orange Juice, Vanilla Syrup, Prosecco

Inspired by a cocktail from New York City bartender Natasha David, the crimson-colored Tarocco Spritz is a nod to the flavor…

Modern





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GLASS wine glass • GARNISH grapefruit half-wheel





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Dolin Dry Vermouth, Suze, St-Germain, Fresh Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup

ALEX DAY Nitecap, New York City, NY

This drink was born out of the idea to create a more sippable, bubbly White Negroni (a variation on the classic using Suze, gin,…

Modern





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GLASS coupe • GARNISH lemon twist





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Caraway-Infused Cocchi Americano, Fresh Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup, Peach Preserves, Sparkling Wine

NATASHA DAVID created for Sunshine Co., Brooklyn, NY

Charged with conceptualizing a cocktail menu for Sunshine Co., a Brooklyn bar without a full liquor license, Natasha David was challenged to formulate drinks with the visage of a “real” cocktail, minus the hard spirits. One such result, the Viking Culture is meant to evoke the flavors of Scandinavia…

Modern





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GLASS double rocks or wine glass • GARNISH rosemary sprig





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Braulio, Riesling, Grape Syrup, Crément

Made with a list of ingredients meant to channel the cool, glacial ferocity of the Alps, this spritz has a base of Braulio, an Italian alpine bitter that tastes of menthol and bittersweet pine. The acidic Riesling, homemade grape syrup, and aromatic…

Modern





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GLASS Collins • GARNISH 2 to 3 skewered blackberries





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Blackberries, Fresh Lemon Juice, Cocchi Americano, Champagne or Sparkling Wine

DANIEL ZACHARCZUK The Varnish, Los Angeles, CA

Testing dozens of spritzes for this book revealed a universal…

Modern





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GLASS Champagne flute or wine glass GARNISH dehydrated blood orange slice or a thin slice of blood orange





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Sparkling Dry Rosé, Cappelletti, Reduced Blood Orange Juice

MATTHEW BIANCANIELLO Los Angeles, CA

Matthew Biancaniello’s specialty is hyperseasonal drinking. Each week, he forages through L.A.’s farmers’ markets and green spaces for the best produce available—filling in the gaps with goods from his own garden—and sets it all up like a veritable…

Modern





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• GLASS large tumbler or highball GARNISH orange, lemon, and lime peels





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Cocchi Americano, Fino Sherry, Fresh Lemon Juice, Bittermens Orange Creme Citrate, Cava or Prosecco

GREG BEST Atlanta, GA

Greg Best’s Unnamed Go-To may be the formula that comes closest—philosophically speaking—to the ideal modern spritz recipe. Experimental, somewhat haphazard, and undeniably refreshing, this cooling mixture is the definition of insouciant style.

Modern





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GLASS rocks or wine glass • GARNISH grapefruit half-wheel





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Cocchi Americano, Lini Lambrusco Rosato, Fresh Grapefruit Juice

Everyone should have a house spritz—a seasonal standard whose proportions are known by heart and ingredients …

Modern





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GLASS rocks • GARNISH orange half-wheel with seasonal fruit





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Cocchi Barolo Chinato, Cappelletti, Cava

ADAM BERNBACH 2 Birds 1 Stone, Washington, D.C.

Admittedly obsessed with the luscious, bitter allure of Barolo Chinato, Adam Bernbach saw an opportunity to introduce the quinine-fortified wine to the classic Negroni Sbagliato template. Here, he switches the traditional sweet vermouth element for…

Modern





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GLASS wine glass • GARNISH mint sprig and lemon wheel





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KEY INGREDIENTS: St-Germain, Mint Sprig, Prosecco

It’s since become a regional phenomenon, having been commercially co-opted by an Italian company and bottled as a ready-to-drink cocktail, but the original is still a staple in Austria and Germany. Because fresh elderflower isn’t available in the United States, the most widely available replacement…

Modern





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GLASS Collins or rocks • GARNISH 2 to 3 brandied cherries (preferably Fabbri Amarena)





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Brandied Cherries or Fresh Cherries, High-Quality Balsamic Vinegar, Punt e Mes, Carpano Bianco, Prosecco

The Amarena Spritz combines three northern Italian traditions into one drink: Punt e Mes and Carpano Bianco vermouths…

Modern





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GLASS Collins • GARNISH lemon wheel





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Byrrh Grand Quinquina, Lustau Amontillado Sherry, Ancho-Infused Moscatel Sherry, Cranberry Shrub, Fresh Lemon Juice, Sparkling Wine

NATASHA DAVID Nitecap, New York City, NY

From a winter menu at NYC’s Nitecap, the Byrrh It’s Cold…

Modern





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GLASS Collins • GARNISH mint sprig and lime wheel





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Fresh Lime Juice, Orgeat, Pierre Ferrand Dry Orange Curaçao, Denizen Merchant’s Reserve Rum (or Appleton Estate Reserve Rum), Brut Champagne

MARTIN CATE Smuggler’s Cove, San Francisco, CA

Like the many maligned Mai Tai recipes floating about in the…

Modern





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GLASS rocks • GARNISH orange half-wheel





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Pellegrino Aranciata, Zwack Amaro, Prosecco

JIM MEEHAN PDT, New York City, NY

Jim Meehan created this melding of Italo-Hungarian ingredients for the Caffé della Posta in Bolgheri, Italy, in 2011. Zwack siblings Sandor and Izabella (who produce Zwack amaro and Unicum in Hungary) opened the café in the town where they…

Modern





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GLASS wine glass • GARNISH orange twist





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Strega, Cognac, Cappelletti, Fresh Lemon Juice, Angostura Orange Bitters, Sparkling Wine

WILL ELLIOTT Maison Premiere, Brooklyn, NY

The base ingredient in Will Elliott’s complex spritz is the idiosyncratic saffron-infused Strega, a brilliant yellow bitter liqueur whose name means “witch” in Italian. Named after Giuseppe Alberti, who founded the Strega distillery in 1860…

Modern





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GLASS wine glass • GARNISH orange twist





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Vergano Americano, Les Capriades Pet’Sec

JORGE RIERA Wildair, New York City, NY

This naturalist take on the spritz has become a staple at the New York natural wine bar Wildair. A combination of Mauro Vergano Americano, which is made from Grignolino grapes sourced from Piedmontese natural wine producer Cascina…

Modern





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GLASS wine glass • GARNISH lemon wheel, grapefruit slice, and edible flowers





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Dry Rosé, Lillet Rosé, Hibiscus Tea, Fresh Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup, Aperol, Sparkling Wine

NATASHA DAVID Nitecap, New York City, NY

This explosion of flower-garnished pinkness was inspired by a traditional sangria template, but instead of white or red wine, Natasha David swapped in rosé and layered it with a splash of bitter Aperol and the subtly sweet punch of Lillet Rosé. Hibiscus…

Modern





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GLASS coupe • GARNISH 2 Castelvetrano olives





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Amaro Nardini, Aperol, Fresh Lemon Juice, Castelvetrano Olive Brine, Prosecco

KENENIAH BYSTROM Essex, Seattle, WA

This drink is a riff on another cocktail called the Sweet Olive…

Modern





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• GLASS Collins or rocks GARNISH orange wheel





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Aperol, Fresh Orange Juice, Fresh Grapefruit Juice, Prosecco

TERRONI, Los Angeles, CA

The Aperol Betty is barely more than a glorified, bittersweet…

Modern





A more avant-garde breed, the spritz cousins adapt a wider variety of ingredients and techniques than the classic or modern, but embody the same bubbly, bitter, easy-going spirit.





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GLASS Collins • GARNISH orange half-wheel





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Campari, Sweet Vermouth

Though popular history dictates that the Americano was named for the American tourists who took to the eye-catching…

Cousins





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GLASS Collins • GARNISH orange wheel





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Campari, Dolin Rouge, Carpano Antica, Pilsner

DAMON BOELTE Grand Army Bar, Brooklyn, NY

Damon Boelte’s clever twist on the Americano turns the…

Cousins





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GLASS Collins





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Averna, Aged Rum, Vanilla Syrup, Cold-Brewed Coffee, Egg White, Prosecco

Coffee is perhaps not the most intuitive base for a spritz, but this drink takes its inspiration from the traditional Italian pre-aperitivo—afternoon espresso—and manages to make it surprisingly brunch-appropriate. Dark, rich Sicilian amaro combines with aged rum and vanilla syrup to form a base not…

Cousins





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GLASS snifter or rocks • GARNISH orange peel





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Egg White, White Rum, Simple Syrup, Fresh Lemon Juice, Fresh Orange Juice, Champagne or Sparkling Wine

Served as the sixth course of the Titanic’s final first-class dinner, the Punch Romaine’s claim to fame is a rather morbid one. Had it not been the palate cleanser between the meat and squab courses that April evening, it might have been better remembered for its famous originator—French chef Georges…

Cousins





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GLASS Collins • GARNISH cucumber ribbon or spear





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Simple Syrup, Cucumber Slices, Salers, Dolin Dry Vermouth, Fresh Lime Juice

Each spring, for over a thousand years, Venice has celebrated its Festa della Sensa, or the city’s marriage to the sea. A ritual that…

Cousins





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GLASS hurricane • GARNISH grapefruit half-wheel and a cinnamon stick





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Cocchi Americano, Perry’s Tot Gin, Fresh Lime Juice, Fresh Grapefruit Juice, Honey Syrup, Vanilla Syrup, Allspice Dram

MATTHEW BELANGER Donna, Brooklyn, NY

Matt Belanger likes to “shoehorn tiki into everything,” as he…

Cousins





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GLASS Collins • GARNISH orange half-wheel





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Campari, Dry Vermouth, Fresh Lime Juice, Simple Syrup

MICHAEL MCILROY Attaboy, New York City, NY

A riff on the Americano blueprint, the Rome with a View…

Cousins





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GLASS highball • GARNISH orange half-wheel and 3 mint sprigs





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Ginger Syrup, Fresh Lime Juice, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, Averna, Angostura Bitters

LEO ROBITSCHEK The NoMad, New York City, NY

While giving this recipe a test run, Leo Robitschek tried it out on a friend who declared the kicky gingery result so drinkable that even a kid would like it. He then suggested it might be served in a sippy cup to his own two rambunctious children…

Cousins





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GLASS highball • GARNISH lemon half-wheel and mint sprig





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KEY INGREDIENTS: White Port, Tonic, Fresh Lemon Juice

The Portuguese White Port & Tonic contains the same aperitivo-driven spirit as the Italian white spritz and the Spanish gin and tonic. A mash-up of the two, this drink is a simple mixture of slightly off-dry port made from white grapes—most often used in pre-dinner cocktails or punch in Portugal’s Douro Valley…

Cousins





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GLASS snifter • GARNISH lemon, orange, or other seasonal fruit





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Red Wine (full-bodied and dry), Lemon Syrup

Perhaps the Tinto de Verano (literally “summer red wine”) is Spain’s equivalent of a basic spritz. There it’s cut with gaseosa…

Cousins





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GLASS small rocks • GARNISH mint sprig





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Vodka (preferably a citrus vodka like St. George), Lemon Sorbetto, Prosecco

In the Venetian dialect, sgropin, meaning “to untie,” is a play on the duty of the digestivo drink to provide postprandial relief.…

Cousins





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GLASS highball • GARNISH orange peel





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Egg White, Amaro Meletti, Grand Marnier, Fresh Lemon Juice, Orgeat, Angostura bitters

DAN SABO Ace Hotel, Los Angeles, CA

This cocktail was born from Dan Sabo’s simple desire to create a sour using the saffron-infused Amaro Meletti. Needing to balance the drink’s rich bitterness, Sabo added the cognac-based orange liqueur Grand Marnier, thus uniting two Alpine…

Cousins





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GLASS highball • GARNISH lime wheel and orange wheel





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Campari, St. George Raspberry Liqueur, Honey Syrup, Fresh Lime Juice, Anderson Valley IPA

PAMELA WIZNITZER Seamstress, New York City, NY

An ode to Northern California, the Cold in the Shadows hints at San Francisco’s chilly umbra, even in the warmest of months. Each ingredient is connected to the region— the IPA from the Anderson Valley, Campari, whose headquarters are housed…

Cousins





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GLASS Collins • GARNISH orange twist





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Aperol, Fresh Lemon Juice, Dolin Dry Vermouth, Honey Syrup, Gran Classico Bitter Amaro, Fresh Orange Juice, Egg White, Sparkling Wine

ISAAC SHUMWAY created for Tosca, San Francisco, CA

The Diamond Fizz was born around the turn of this century…

Cousins





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GLASS highball • GARNISH pineapple wedge and lime wheel





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Red Wine, Fresh Pineapple Juice, Simple Syrup, Fresh Lime Juice

ADAPTED FROM the Stork Club Bar Book by Lucius Beebe

This drink was a favorite of Jinx Falkenburg, one of America’s first supermodels in the 1930s and 1940s, and was—according to her—popular amongst Mexican bullfighters. A regular at New York’s star-studded Stork Club, Falkenburg lent this recipe…

Cousins





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GLASS Collins • GARNISH orange half-wheel





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Zwack, Fresh Orange Juice, Fresh Lemon Juice, Miller High Life

TOBY MALONEY The Violet Hour, Chicago, IL

Several years ago at a sports bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn—spiritual home of the hipster—bartender Toby Maloney was introduced to the “bro-mosa,” an ironic play on the Mimosa consisting of Miller High Life and orange juice. He was happily…

Cousins





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GLASS Collins or large tumbler • GARNISH lemon wheel and brandied cherry





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Rosé, Fresh Lemon Juice, Fresh Orange Juice, Giffard Pamplemousse Rose Liqueur

In the 1971 edition of Playboy’s Host & Bar Book by Thomas Mario, a recipe for a boozy pink lemonade peers out between…

Cousins





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GLASS Collins or wine glass • GARNISH basil and lime wheel





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Basil-Infused Dolin Blanc Vermouth, Pear Eau de Vie, Fresh Lime Juice, Simple Syrup, Absinthe

ALEX DAY Death & Co., New York City, NY

The Tunnel Vision was born of Alex Day’s desire to create…

Cousins





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GLASS Collins • GARNISH orange half-wheel





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Amaro Montenegro, Fino Sherry, Fresh Lime Juice, Simple Syrup

DAN GREENBAUM Attaboy, New York City, NY

Built with the sensibility of a Collins (spirit + citrus + sugar + soda), the Second Serve is Dan Greenbaum’s nod to the soft-hitting elegance of tennis. Crisp, refreshing fino sherry mixes with sweet, herbal Montenegro, and is stretched into…

Cousins





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GLASS Collins • GARNISH orange slice





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Campari, Fresh Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup, Vermouth

BOBBY HEUGEL Anvil and The Pastry War, Houston, TX

Combining the spirit of the Americano with the attitude of a sour, Bobby Heugel’s Bitter Intentions is a playful riff on two classic cocktail archetypes. Because Campari can skew sweet, the addition of lemon mellows the combination but still…

Cousins





TECHNICALLY, THE PREDOMINANT RELIGION of Italy is Roman Catholicism, but in reality, it’s communing over food and drink. Carrots, celery, and onions are the holy trinity; garlic, tomatoes, and basil the patron saints; prosciutto, mortadella, and pecorino the archangels. And wine is—quite obviously—the Messiah.

Say what you may about spirituality, there is nothing more spiritually binding than breaking bread, twirling pasta around a fork, and sharing wine with other humans on a sunny patch of street. (What did you think the Eucharist was about?) Tourists travel to Italy year after year solely to take part in this tradition, as if it wasn’t replicable in their own countries. It’s just somehow, the world collectively agrees, that Italy does it best, particularly when it comes to that crescent of space between work and play called aperitivo.

Italians abide with unwavering faithfulness by the belief that a little something to eat and drink will foster the appetite and the desire for a little something more. It’s a simple creed that, as Roberto Bava of Cocchi very neatly sums up, “is not an invention; it’s a need.” And when pressed to answer the question of when he guesses this tradition of taking a little pre-dinner bite and a drink originated in Italy, he says, half joking, “Maybe when the first cheese is invented?”

And like Italy’s library of cheese, the aperitivo snacks of each region—beyond the perfunctory olives and potato chips—vary depending on the local agriculture, cosmopolitan influence (or lack thereof), and drinking traditions.

In Venice, the snacks that typically accompany a proper aperitivo are called cicchetti. This word—used exclusively in Venice—is derived from the word ciccus, meaning “small quantity” in Latin. Served throughout the day and into aperitivo hour, cicchetti most commonly includes things like crostini, fried seafood served on skewers or in paper cones, polpette (meatballs), and sarde in saor (sardines). But in a new era of satisfying crowds who flock for spritz and its accompanying lifestyle, anything that can be miniaturized, picked up, and eaten is considered cicchetti material.

Across the country in industrious Milan, the two-for-one American style of happy hour began to take hold during the economic downturn of the recent decade, and now food is often included in the price of a drink. Part of the relatively new phenomenon of apericena, the buffet style of service shepherds in passersby with tables covered in everything from pizzette to mondeghili (deep-fried Milanese meatballs) to quiches to French fries. (However, if you see French fries on any Italian buffet, it’s safe to say you should be spritzing elsewhere.) Thanks to the city’s welcoming of international influence, aperitivo food is less Milanese and more pan-continental.

By contrast, Turin is something of a composite of Milan’s often Rococo flair and Venice’s traditionalism, funneled through a deeply rooted café culture that remains true to its Piedmontese culinary heritage. Here, you’ll find both wine bars and ornate cafés serving little snacks for a euro or two each alongside proprietary vermouth, spritzes, and wine. But you’ll also find elaborate buffets loaded with everything from fresh vegetables and bagna cauda (anchovy and garlic sauce) to skewered cubes of silky mortadella to composed salads to vitello tonnato, a regional specialty of cold, thinly sliced veal smothered in creamy tuna sauce.

And between each of these proud, distinct cities, the nuance continues. But the point is, without food there would be no aperitivo hour in the modern sense. There would be no name for the crescent of space that has been carved out between the end of the workday and the dinner hour. There would be no crescent of space. And there would be no spritz.



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SERVES 6–8





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Small Sardines, Pine Nuts, Large Yellow Onions, White Wine Vinegar, Raisins, soaked in water overnight and drained

ADAPTED FROM Polpo, London, UK

One of Venice’s most traditional dishes, sarde in saor…

The Apertivo Table





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VARIATIONS:

CAFFÈ FLORIAN’S TRAMEZZINI

MAKES 8

ITALIAN TUNA SALAD

MAKES 8



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The omnipresent Italian snack food, tramezzini are small crustless sandwiches made with white milk–based bread and stuffed with anything from tuna and hard-boiled eggs to porchetta and radicchio depending on the season and the region. Born in Turin…



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VARIATIONS:

OVEN-ROASTED OLIVES

YIELD 2 cups

SAFFRON ALMONDS

YIELD 1 cup

HAND-CUT POTATO CHIPS

YIELD Approximately 6 cups

GRISSINI WITH PROSCIUTTO AND PICKLED RADICCHIO

MAKES 20

No matter what sort of establishment you wander into during aperitivo, salty snacks are always on offer…

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SERVES 4





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Lemons, Small Artichokes, White Wine, Parsley

The sandy lagoon islands surrounding Venice have the muddy soil ideal for growing the artichoke, especially….

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MAKES 6-8 skewers





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Garlic, Cherry Tomatoes, Large Shrimp, Calamari

Spiedino—the diminutive of spiedo, meaning “spit” or “skewer”—most often refers to a meatball that has…

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CROSTINI TOPPINGS:

SAGE AND WHITE BEANS

MAKES 1 cup

HAZELNUT PESTO AND ROASTED TOMATOES

MAKES about 1½ cups

CHICKEN LIVER PTÉ

MAKES about 2½ cups

RICOTTA, PROSCIUTTO, AND FRESH SEASONAL FRUIT

MAKES 6–8 crostini

BACCALÀ MANTECATO AND HOT RED PEPPER

MAKES 6–8 crostini

ARUGULA, MOZZARELLA, AND CURED ANCHOVY

MAKES 6–8 crostini

ARTICHOKES AND FRIED PANCETTA

MAKES 6–8 crostini

BACCALÀ MANTECATO

MAKES 1¾–2 cups





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The folklore about crostini’s origins holds that before there were individual serving dishes, there were slabs…

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SERVES 6–8





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Veal or Beef Shank, Medium Yellow Onion, Garlic, Grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano, Nutmeg, Stale Bread, Milk

Most Americans know meatballs via the southern Italian tradition, filtered through decades of appropriation…

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MAKES 8





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KEY INGREDIENTS: Artichokes, Garlic, Mascarpone, Cured Anchovies

In the Campo San Giacomo Rialto of Venice’s San Polo neighborhood is Osteria Bancogiro, a young establishment with a deceitfully ancient facade, where spritzes con Select (Venice’s favorite red bitter) and half a dozen plates of crostini dot every counter…

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SERVES 6–8

TOPPINGS:

LARDO-WRAPPED SHRIMP

MAKES 1 cup

SAUSAGE AND ONION

MAKES 1½ cups





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Polenta has been made in Italy since Roman times, when grain was coarsely milled and churned into porridge or hardened bread. Before it became an heirloom staple at Whole Foods, it was a functional food rather than a stylish one, rounding out the diets of Italian peasants. Across northern Italy, it’s still made in copper pots via vigorous, continuous stirring, and often served as a sort of cornbread toast piled with baccalà or seafood in Venice, or sausage and onions in the Alto Adige. During Roman times, it was made with primitive grains like spelt and millet, morphing into the yellow or white corn variety when maize was brought back from the New World.

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GLASS rocks or wine glass • GARNISH olive and orange half-wheel

The spritz that launched a thousand spritzes, the Venetian Spritz is made with a range of bitter liqueurs, including the ubiquitous Aperol from Padua and the more locally beloved Select (thought to be the original bitter used in the Venetian Spritz). Always garnished with a skewered olive and a slice of citrus, this style of spritz is the most widely recognized classic and the standard-bearer of spritz living across Italy.

2 OUNCES BITTER LIQUEUR (SEE NOTE)

3 TO 4 OUNCES PROSECCO

2 OUNCES SODA WATER



Build the ingredients in a rocks or wine glass, over ice, and add the garnish.


NOTE

Aperol is the most popular bitter liqueur used in the spritz; it is also the sweetest. If you prefer a more bracingly bitter spritz, try splitting Aperol with Campari (1:1). And if you can find them, Contratto Aperitif, Contratto Bitter, Mauro Vergano Americano, and Cappelletti Aperitivo Americano are four aperitivo bitters we find ourselves returning to over and over again in this classic formula.


Venetian Spritz





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GLASS rocks • GARNISH orange half-wheel

The legendary Bar Basso in Milan (which originally opened in 1933 and moved to its current space in 1947) claims provenance of this buoyant little cousin to the Negroni, whose sbagliato addendum means “mistaken” or “incorrect” in Italian. Basso’s jovial proprietor Maurizio Stocchetto entertains guests with an origin tale citing his father, Mirko—a legendary midcentury barman and the owner of Bar Basso beginning in 1967—as the “accidental” inventor of the drink in the early 1970s, substituting prosecco for gin. Most impressively, the bar serves its sbagliato in a giant handblown goblet complete with an ice block the size of a car battery.

1 OUNCE CAMPARI

1 OUNCE SWEET VERMOUTH

3 OUNCES PROSECCO



Build the ingredients in a rocks glass over ice and add the garnish.


Negroni Sbagliato





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GLASS wine glass • GARNISH seasonal citrus, herbs, or fruit

The first vestige of spritz ancestry, the white spritz or spritz liscio was likely—as the Italian mythos goes—born in Hapsburg-occupied northern Italy in the nineteenth century, when Austrian soldiers introduced the practice of adding a spritz of water to the region’s wines, in an effort to make them more pleasing to their Riesling-weaned palates. This version, with soda water, emerged in the first years of the twentieth century, and is a malleable blueprint created to suit each drinker’s palate. Simply add a splash of homemade syrup or fruit liqueur to a base of white wine and soda, and garnish with abandon.

4 OUNCES DRY WHITE WINE

2 OUNCES SODA WATER

½ OUNCE LEMON SYRUP



Build the ingredients in a wine glass over ice and add the garnish.


White Spritz





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GLASS wine glass • GARNISH lemon half-wheel

Either a white spritz with the addition of Campari or a Venetian Spritz that calls for white wine instead of prosecco, the Bicicletta is named for the mode of transportation in which its drinkers toddle home after several drinks at the local café. Originating in Lombardia in northwest Italy in the 1930s, it’s almost exclusively consumed with Campari everywhere except Brescia.

1 TO 2 OUNCES CAMPARI

3 OUNCES WHITE WINE

SODA WATER



Build the ingredients in a wine glass over ice and add the garnish.


Bicicletta





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GABRIEL ORTA & ELAD ZVI Broken Shaker, Miami, FL GLASS wine glass • GARNISH lemon half-wheel and mint sprig

The sunshine-soaked cult of rosé has finally reached fever pitch and is now making regular appearances in cocktails all over America. Here it shows up—rather appropriately—in a spritz variation at Miami Beach’s Broken Shaker, a backyard cocktail grove of palm trees and beautiful pool-goers who line up for seasonal caipirinhas and mojitos every day of the year. The rosé creates a background for bittersweet Cocchi Americano and sweet-and-sour papaya shrub, all bound together with a dose of prosecco.

2 OUNCES ROSÉ

1 OUNCE COCCHI AMERICANO

1 OUNCE PAPAYA SHRUB

½ OUNCE FRESH LEMON JUICE

1 OUNCE PROSECCO



Add the rosé, Cocchi, papaya shrub, and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker. Stir well and strain into a wine glass filled with ice. Top with the prosecco and add the garnish.


PAPAYA SHRUB

Add 5 to 8 chunks papaya, 1 cup rice wine vinegar, and ¼ cup sugar to a saucepan. Simmer over very low heat for 20 minutes. Cool for at least 30 minutes. Strain, bottle, and refrigerate for up to one month.


Rosé All Day





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GLASS rocks • GARNISH blood orange wheel

Inspired by a cocktail from New York City bartender Natasha David, the crimson-colored Tarocco Spritz is a nod to the flavor and color of the Sicilian Tarocco orange, often referred to as the “half-blood orange.” A mixed-heritage cocktail, this drink has a bumped-up base of gin to match the vibrant bitter aperitivo liqueur Cappelletti. The drink’s acidity comes courtesy of blood orange, lemon juice, and prosecco, bound together by the unlikely addition of vanilla, which complements Cappelletti’s notes of spice and oxidation.

1 OUNCE GIN

½ OUNCE CAPPELLETTI

¾ OUNCE FRESH BLOOD ORANGE JUICE

½ OUNCE FRESH LEMON JUICE

½ OUNCE VANILLA SYRUP

2 OUNCES PROSECCO



Add the gin, Cappelletti, orange juice, lemon juice, and vanilla syrup to a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake until chilled. Strain over fresh ice, top with the prosecco, and add the garnish.


Tarocco Spritz





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ALEX DAY Nitecap, New York City, NY GLASS wine glass • GARNISH grapefruit half-wheel

This drink was born out of the idea to create a more sippable, bubbly White Negroni (a variation on the classic using Suze, gin, and Lillet Blanc or blanc vermouth). To start, bartender Alex Day was set on maintaining the White Negroni’s most distinctive element—bitter, gentian-forward Suze. From there, he built in a sour recipe with lemon juice, St-Germain, and simple syrup, and maintained its backbone with dry, spicy Dolin. Though the drink doesn’t contain a traditional prosecco topper, it has the lighthearted spritz spirit with its bittersweet twinge, sunshine yellow hue, and bubbly personality.

2 OUNCES DOLIN DRY VERMOUTH

¼ OUNCE SUZE

½ OUNCE ST-GERMAIN

½ OUNCE FRESH LEMON JUICE

½ OUNCE SIMPLE SYRUP

SODA WATER



Pour the vermouth, Suze, St-Germain, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a wine glass over ice. Top with soda water and add the garnish.


Rib Tickler





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NATASHA DAVID created for Sunshine Co., Brooklyn, NY GLASS coupe • GARNISH lemon twist

Charged with conceptualizing a cocktail menu for Sunshine Co., a Brooklyn bar without a full liquor license, Natasha David was challenged to formulate drinks with the visage of a “real” cocktail, minus the hard spirits. One such result, the Viking Culture is meant to evoke the flavors of Scandinavia via aquavit and the men “with big, bushy red beards” who drink it, as David puts it. Mimicking aquavit with caraway seed–infused Cocchi Americano, David added the natural flavor pairing of peach, using preserves to create a textural layer. It’s all blended together with a good shake and then ushered into sturdy Viking bliss with a topper of sparkling wine.

2 OUNCES CARAWAY-INFUSED COCCHI AMERICANO

¾ OUNCE FRESH LEMON JUICE

¼ OUNCE SIMPLE SYRUP

1 TABLESPOON PEACH PRESERVES (PREFERABLY BONNE MAMAN)

SPARKLING WINE



Add the Cocchi Americano, the lemon juice, simple syrup, and peach preserves to a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake until chilled. Double-strain into a coupe glass and top with the sparkling wine and garnish.

The remaining infused Cocchi can be added as the b