Italians are the masters of the "aperitivo," or the pre-dinner drink meant to stimulate one's appetite. One popular appetite-igniter is the Aperol Spritz. The cocktail entirely embraces the idea of "less is more," which only adds to its charm.
Traditionally, the Aperol Spritz is made from just three ingredients (plus a garnish): Aperol, orange-hued and bittersweet liqueur made from rhubarb; Prosecco; and club soda. The ingredients are then poured into a glass garnished with either an orange slice or a twist of orange rind. There are no shakers involved.
"What I love most about the Aperol Spritz is that, in an era where cocktails have become very, very serious in their construction, the spritz is a decidedly unserious drink," Alex McNeely, the bar manager at Lilia in New York City, said in a conversation. "It's a drink that is meant to be whipped together — no need for strict measurements — and shared among friends."
And because the drink is traditionally low in alcohol, and quite bubbly, "it's easy to drink many of them," he added.
The spritz, a cocktail with a wine and club-soda base, is making a comeback. "There is an amazing spritz culture right now," McNeely said. "It's the kind of drink you can have twelve of," Still, the Aperol Spritz is by far the most popular drink on Lilia's menu when the weather is warm. "When it's 72 degrees or higher, the Aperol Spritz is basically all people order."
The cocktail recipe is also quite easy to remember: It's a simple 3-2-1, Aperol's website noted. The numbers represents the ratio of three parts of Prosecco to two parts Aperol to one part club soda. McNeely's version is more of a 2.5 to 2-1 ratio, but for the most part the restaurant "freehands an approximation," McNeely said.
"That's the best part about this drink. It's great for people just learning how to make drinks, because it doesn't require a ton of precision," he explained. Want to make your own? Check out this step-by-step guide to making an Aperol Spritz below.
How to make an Aperol Spritz
1. Put ice in a wine glass.
McNeely said he likes to use larger ice cubes that melt more slowly. He recommends serving the drink in a large red wine glass. "The wide rim really lets you smell the aromatics of the drink when you sip."
2. Add a twist of citrus.
While people typically just garnish a drink with an orange twist as a last step, McNeely prefers to twist a lemon peel over the glass. "We express the lemon oil from the twist into the glass so that way the lemon flavor coats the entire glass."
3. Add Aperol.
While you could pour the Aperol right into the wine glass, McNeely prefers to mix all the liquids in a separate cup so that they combine thoroughly.
4. Add Prosecco.
McNeely uses an extra dry Prosecco in the cocktail that is of a "pretty high quality." He said that the "little extra bit of residual sugar in the wine helps flesh out the fruit flavors of the drink."
5. Add In Club Soda
It's important that the club soda is as carbonated as possible. McNeely suggests looking for the smallest bottle possible to pour from. "You need to start with the most carbonated ingredients possible, because with pour and mixing the carbonation will dissipate."
6. Pour Drink Over Ice
Now you're all set to throwback an Aperol Spritz, or five.