The Aperol Spritz is the quintessential aperitivo cocktail in Italy. (Sorry Negroni fans!) Discover the story behind the classic Italian cocktail and learn how to craft one at home.
As orange as a summer sunset, Italy’s Aperol Spritz is a boozy, bubbly beverage that’s simultaneously sweet and bitter. It’s also a drink that is easy to order at bars all over the world.
However, despite its ubiquitousness, there’s nowhere better to sip an Aperol Spritz than in Italy, the country where the iconic spritzer was invented.
We first tasted an Aperol Spritz in Naples after we saw locals sipping vibrant orange drinks in jumbo goblets… but it wasn’t what we expected. Surprised by an astringent flavor that seemed incongruent to the drink’s fruity appearance, we were unsure if we liked the colorful cocktail almost a decade ago.
To be honest, we’re still not sure whether or not we like Aperol Spritzes. But, since we’re not quitters, we’ll keep drinking them until we make up our minds. It’s the least we can do as lazy mixologists and dedicated food travelers.
History of the Aperol Spritz
Although Italian bartenders first crafted Aperol Spritzes in the 1950s, the drink’s history goes back to 1919 when Luigi and Silvio Barbieri invented Aperol in Padua, an Italian city located in the same region as both Venice and Verona. Popular within the boot for decades, the Aperol Spritz achieved global fame after Gruppo Campari purchased Aperol in 2003.
Gruppo Campari also owns Campari, the bitter red liquor used to craft Negronis, but the two liquors aren’t the same. Made with ingredients like citrus oil, rhubarb, gentian root and cinchona bark, Aperol is sweeter and less potent than Campari. It’s also orange as previously noted.
What Is an Aperol Spritz?
The Aperol Spritz fits into the spritz cocktail category.
Beloved in Italy, classic spritzes contain sparkling wine, Amari (i.e. bitter liqueur) and soda water in a 3:2:1 ratio. Prosecco is the Italian sparkling wine of choice while Aperol, Campari, Cynar and Select are popular Amari choices.
The classic Aperol Spritz recipe has three parts Prosecco, two parts Aperol and one part fizzy water. For many Italians, drinking an Aperol Spritz has become a nightly aperitivo ritual.
What Is Aperitivo?
Italy’s aperitvo is the happiest hour of the day when people wind down before dinner with a refreshing cocktail and snacks like salumi (preferably prosciutto, coppa or mortadella), cheese and olives. Italians typically drink wine, Negronis and spritzes during the nightly sunset ritual.
It goes without saying that the Aperol Spritz is one of the most popular aperitivo spritzes. However, don’t assume that every Italian bar serves Aperol Spritzes. One of the best cicchetti bars in Venice proudly declares itself to be a non-spritz zone and solely serves wine instead.
Aperol Spritz Ingredients
We already shared that the classic Aperol Spritz’s primary ingredients are Prosecco, Aperol and club soda on a 3:2:1 ratio. In our recipe, we use sparkling water instead of club soda.
This is the full list of Aperol Spritz ingredients:
While any sparkling wine would technically work, we like to use a good quality Italian Prosecco when we craft this Italian cocktail at home. We chose an extra dry Prosecco produced by Albino Armani in the Veneto for this recipe. As a bonus, the leftover Prosecco tasted great on its own.
You can use sparkling water, seltzer or club soda. Although we normally drink Perrier at home, we chose to use Italy’s San Pellegrino in honor of the drink’s heritage.
How to Craft an Aperol Spritz
Crafting an Aperol Spritz is super easy and doesn’t require any special tools or equipment. We used the following two tools while crafting this recipe:
The first step is to open the Prosecco bottle. Be sure to direct the bottle away from your eyes and any lighting fixture before you pop the cork! But seriously, it’s best to use both hands to open the bottle, twisting the cork while gently liberating it from the top. You should hold the bottle upright as well.
Once the bottle is open, organize your work station and add ice cubes to a glass.
Choose the glass with care as you’ll be drinking your Aperol Spritz from it. We like to use a wine glass though you may prefer a goblet or lowball glass instead.
The next step is to measure the Prosecco and Aperol. We like to use a Japanese Jigger for these measurements to avoid spillage and ensure accurate measurements.
Buy a Japanese jigger if you don’t have one or if you want to make an inexpensive jigger upgrade.
Simply pour each liquor into the glass after you measure it. You don’t need a shaker or mixing glass for this easy Aperol Spritz recipe!
The next step is to gently stir with a bar spoon.
Drop in an orange slice or wedge plus a splash of sparkling water. You can use club soda instead if you have a bottle in your pantry.
You’ll want to immediately start sipping your Aperol Spritz while its cold and bubbly. If you don’t, the ice will melt and the drink will dilute.
You’ll also want to space your sips with nibbles like cured meat, hard cheese and Mediterranean olives. By doing so, you will be enjoying aperitivo whether you’re in Rome, Italy or Rome, Georgia.
Aperol Spritz Alternatives
Whether or not you consider our classic Aperol Spritz recipe to be the perfect Aperol Spritz recipe, feel free to get creative by trying one or more of the following alternatives during a future aperitivo session:
Aperol Spritz FAQs
The Aperol Spritz was invented in Italy.
Aperol Liqueur, Prosecco, Sparkling Water, Orange Slice (garnish) and Ice Cubes
The Aperol Spritz is stirred, not shaken.
Although the Aperol Spritz was originally imbibed during Italian aperitivo sessions, it’s now enjoyed any time of the day from brunch to late night drinking sessions.
We like to serve this cocktail in a wine glass but you could use any glass to serve the bitter yet popular spritz.
Aperol Spritz Recipe
- 2 ounces Aperol
- 3 ounces Prosecco, chilled
- 1 ounce sparkling water, chilled
- 1 orange slice
- ice cubes
- Fill a glass or goblet with ice cubes.
- Add Aperol and Prosecco. Gently stir.
- Add soda water plus an orange slice or wedge.
- Drink immediately.
- Modify the Aperol Spritz's 3:2:1 ratio if you prefer a sweeter or less sweet version.
- Feel free to use club soda instead of sparkling water.
- We like to use a wine glass but you can use a goblet or lowball glass instead.
- If you don't drink the Aperol Spritz immediately, the cocktail's flavor will diminish as the ice melts.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
Original Publication Date: November 15, 2021