Beyond the Aperol Spritz: the only formula you need for all your summer spritzes

It’s a gateway.
It’s a gateway.
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The Aperol Spritz—the electric-orange potion of Aperol, prosecco, and club soda that’s swirling in globe-shaped glasses in bars, pool parties, and patios worldwide—has been declared “violently refreshing” and the drink of summer 2018 in the New York Times.

The sweet-bitter orange-flavored amaro that gives the Aperol Spritz its name and its poppy shade has been rising in popularity across the US since it was introduced to the market in the mid-aughts, and Italians have known about it since its birth in Padova nearly a century ago. But this summer, the Times informs us, the marketing chiefs at Campari America have put extra effort into flooding summer destinations with the aperitif, and placing Aperol-branded accessories into the hands of Instagrammers at events in the Hamptons, Palm Springs, and Los Angeles.

With all due respect to the Aperol Spritz—which is wonderful stuff, but risks becoming the liquid equivalent of that ubiquitous unicorn pool float—it is far from the only spritz. Nor is it the original.

According to Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau’s wonderful recipe book Spritz, the drink goes back to 19th-century northern Italy, where Austrian soldiers added a spray of water to regional wines to make them more palatable. (Their palates were used to more floral Rieslings.) The spritz has gone through decades of iteration to become the mass-marketed aperitif we love today. And while some of its appeal certainly lies in its cheerful bubbles, sexy bitter hints, and easy-drinking low-proof factor—plus, ice!—Baiocchi and Pariseau argue that it goes deeper than that.

Spritz, they write, is the liquid version of sprezzatura—that oh-so-Italian “I woke-up-like-this mix of beauty and ease” that can transport us all to a bar in Milan for the magic hour known as aperitivo.

I was delighted to discover that Stanley’s Wet Goods, a wine shop and bar in my neighborhood of Los Angeles, Culver City, is experimenting with the format this summer.

“We’re adding three new spritzes to the menu this week,” owner John Stanley told me. “‘Tis the season!”

One version, called Rome with a View, combines Cappelletti—a lightly bitter, wine-based, herbal aperitif—with Dolin dry vermouth, lime juice, and soda water.

“Our approach is to look at a spritz a lot like a cocktail,” says Stanley. “Balance bitter with either sweet, floral, or citrus, or some combination of those.”

The Spritz authors write that the archetypal base formula for a spritz is three parts prosecco, two parts bitter liqueur, and one part soda. But really, the possibilities are endless.

Aperol is a seductive gateway to the wider world of amaros—try a spritz with the Italian classic CioCiaro, or the handsomely labeled Californian Amaro Angeleno. Or swap out the amaro for a vermouth—Stanley suggests a Barolo Chinato like Cocchi for those who like bold, bitter flavors, a Spanish one such as Primitivo Quiles for those who favor spice, or the French Dolin Génépy for a more light, herbaceous flavor.

If bitter isn’t your thing, you can always sub in something sweeter, such as Giffard elderflower liqueur or Briottet blackberry liqueur.

When it comes to the sparkling wine, you can try something lightly sweet, like a Moscato d’Asti. And, of course, there’s that other summer standby: rosé. Try a sparkling one, like Onward’s Pet Nat. For a lower-alcohol spritz, skip the wine entirely—the Rome with a View just uses soda for sparkle.

As for garnishes, go wild. I endorse anything that can carry both an olive and an orange slice.

Happy spritzing!

Recipe: Rome with a View

from Stanley’s Wet Goods

2 oz Cappelletti

1 oz Dolin dry vermouth

1 oz lime juice

Soda water

Lime wheel

Assemble all the ingredients except soda water in shaker tin. Add ice, shake, and


into a collins glass. Add fresh ice, top with soda water, and garnish with a lime wheel.