A breezy little primer on the iconic Italian aperitivo…
I sipped my first spritz at a bar near Piazza Santo Stefano in Bologna, Italy a beautiful “square” (of an irregular shape) surrounded by seven churches, many of which are interconnected with one another.
Light, bubbly and a bit bitter, the bright orange drink was as pleasant and as easy to imbibe as a soft drink. With my husband and friends, we lingered at our outdoor table and enjoyed lively banter before dinner, munching on olives, chips and mini-paninis.
Many Italians, especially in northern Italy, congregate at bars and cafes in the evening (typically after 7PM) to meet for an aperitivo. The same term refers both to the drinks consumed AND the social ritual of leisurely meeting for a drink, nibbles and conversation.
An Italian friend told me that Italians rarely have work-related meetings over meals so aperitivo is a perfect time to meet colleagues in a convivial, unpressured setting.
An Italian aperitivo (which is most often wine, vermouth, Campari and soda, an Americano, or a spritz cocktail) is intended to stimulate the appetite and “open up” the stomach before dinner.
Spritz: The Book
Spritz, Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes (Ten Speed Press, 2016) is a breezy little book filled with rich historical and cultural information about the spritz cocktail. The book includes beautiful art deco illustrations and graphics, as well as recipes for 50 classic and modern spritz cocktails from top mixologists so readers can make this delightful tradition one of their own.
The authors, Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau, note that the Aperol Spritz has become the most popular cocktail in Italy.
I also learned from the book, perhaps late in life, that the term “cocktail” refers to any alcoholic drink with three or more ingredients.
During the 19th century, Austrian soldiers in Italy added a spritz (the German word for spray) of water to local wines that didn’t seem as pleasant tasting to them as their Rieslings.
Over time, the recipe morphed into one using soda water—and then bitters were added. The popularity of the drink spread not only to other parts of Italy but also to cities all over the world. One of the reasons why this cocktail is so popular and easy to drink is because of its relatively low alcohol content.
RECIPE FOR A BASIC SPRITZ
According to this “bible of spritz,” the basic recipe for the cocktail today is as follows:
- 3 parts Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine)
- 2 parts bitter liqueur (like Aperol or Campari)
- 1 part soda
- With an orange or lemon slice, or olive for garnish.
Approximate calorie count 168 calories
according to MyFitnessPal.com
Spritz, Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes is a delightful little book—either to read as a primer before or after a trip to Italy—or to use as a recipe book and keep on a nearby shelf at home.
About the Authors:
TALIA BAIOCCHI is the editor-in-chief of Punch and the author of James Beard Award–nominated Sherry. She has written for Bon Appétit, Saveur, and many more. She lives in Brooklyn.
LESLIE PARISEAU is the former deputy editor of Punch. She has written for the New York Times, GQ, Esquire, and Saveur. She lives in Brooklyn.
Disclosure: We received a complimentary copy of this book for review but any opinions expressed in this post are our own. If you purchase the book through this website, we will make a small commission as Amazon Associates.