If you’re anything like us, you’ve knocked back a fair few Aperol Spritzes in your day. But when ya wanna switch things up, there are some straightforward steps you can take to make a drink that’ll help you beat the orange fatigue.
“A Spritz is simply made,” says Luca Missaglia, Italian bartending legend and the managing partner of aperitivo brand Amaro Santoni. “You make a Spritz with the heart. You make it how you feel, you know?”
The drink typically has three ingredients - a bitter, a sparkling wine and soda water - but with a little imagination, you can make the Spritz all your own. To help you tap into your Spritz intuition, here are our pro tips - featuring expert input from Luca, of course.
The aperitivo moment is having a, well… moment. This Italian tradition has taken off around the world, because who doesn’t love a cheeky pre-dinner cocktail?
The whole point of the aperitivo is to work up an appetite for a bangin’ meal with a drink that’s big on bitter notes - and the Spritz is ALL about bitterness, since it’s typically made with liqueurs or vermouths that get their bitter complexity from botanicals.
“The bitter flavours of orange, rhubarb or [herbs] like rosemary are really good to open up your palate, and they really stimulate your appetite,” Luca says. With this in mind, you can swap the orange stuff for a bitter with botanicals that sound awesome to you. Keep reading for four of our fave bottles.
In the Spritz, sparkling wine is like JC Chasez in NSYNC: a crucial player, if not the flashiest member of the band. “A Spritz without the wine, I don't think it's a Spritz,” Luca says. (We feel the same way about JC.)
The wine balances the botanical profile and sweetness of the bitter, bringing dryness and effervescence to the mix.
“Obviously, in Italy, we make the Spritz with Prosecco,” explains Luca. “If you go to France, they will tell you it should be with Champagne or Crémant, and everywhere else it’s different.” There’s plenty of opportunity to play around with your vino of choice, from Cava, to English sparkling, to new non-alc options and more.
According to Luca, soda isn’t 100% necessary to making an epic Spritz - he says it can make the drink too watered down.
But if you’re keen to keep the soda, he recommends trying out a flavoured variety like rhubarb or grapefruit. Or you can really amp up the bitterness by using tonic instead. “Today we have such a good range of tonics - low in sugar, but super high-profile in taste,” Luca comments. Stick with a smaller pour rather than filling the glass to avoid diluting your drink too much.
Wanna get really wild? Spike your Spritz with a fun, flavoured liqueur or cordial. The team at British aperitivo brand Sipello like to use an elderflower liqueur in their Spritz (see their recipe below), but you can add anything with complementary flavours: coffee, fruit-based and floral liqueurs are all fair game.
The orange slice is the quintessential topper for an Aperol Spritz, but there are loads of ways to get creative with your garnish. For Luca, the key is to choose a garnish that doubles as a snack - two green olives (we dig the sound of that).
“An aperitivo cannot be without anything to eat,” he says. “At the same time as you're drinking, you eat the olives. I think that really completes the whole experience.”
Another tip for picking the garnish of your dreams? Check out the botanical list from your bitter of choice and pick your fave ingredient. It could be lemon peel, grapefruit, rosemary - whatever sets your Spritzy soul on fire.
This stylish aperitivo transports ya straight to Florence (that's the brand's hometown, FYI). It's made with a whopping 34 botanicals, including rhubarb, iris and olive leaves - there's LAYERS to this baby. Do as Luca does and serve it sans soda for maximum flavour.
1 part Amaro Santoni
1 part Prosecco
2 green olives, for garnish
Fill a wine glass with ice and add the Amaro Santoni and Prosecco. Lightly stir, then garnish with two green olives.
Bartending boss Giuseppe Gallo created Savoia to sit in the sweet spot between red bitters and sweet vermouth - and the man hit the mark. This stuff is made from a base of Marsala and Trebbiano wines, giving it a slightly nutty and crisp character, plus botanicals including bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb and aloe.
2 parts Savoia Americano
2 parts Prosecco
3 green grapes, for garnish
Fill a wine glass with ice and add the Savoia Americano and Prosecco. Lightly stir, then garnish with three green grapes.
For a taste of Barcelona, check out El Bandarra. These folks make their Al Fresco aperitivo with Mediterranean botanicals and a whack of grapefruit - and one sip will send ya straight to the Catalonian seaside.
1 part El Bandarra Al Fresco
1 part Cava
Splash of soda
Slice of grapefruit, for garnish
Fill a wine glass with ice and add the El Bandarra Al Fresco and Cava. Top up with soda, lightly stir and garnish with a slice of grapefruit.
For a properly English Spritz, snag a bottle of Sipello and get mixing. This brand, based in the Surrey Hills, makes its liquid with rhubarb sourced from UK farms, gooseberry, cinchona, elderflower and more, in a process inspired by the art of perfume making.
1 part Sipello
1 part Champagne
10ml elderflower cordial or liqueur
Soda, to top
Orange peel, for garnish
Fill a lowball glass with ice and add the Sipello, Champagne and elderflower cordial. Top up with soda, lightly stir and garnish with an orange peel.