Aperol Spritz is canon, but don’t be afraid to change it up

By Rebecca Firkser
Updated June 14, 2018
Credit: Photo by Westend61 via Getty Images

A classic Aperol Spritz is a 1:1 ratio of Aperol and Prosecco over ice, topped with a splash of club soda and a slice of orange—ideal brunch drinking if you ask me. There are myriad ways to riff on a spritz, from alternative liqueurs to flavored seltzers, but regardless of what’s in it, there’s something about a spritz that makes you want to just keep drinking the cocktail all day long.

“A good base (spirit or wine) is absolutely the most important component of a spritz,” Joe Campanale, Owner and Beverage Director of Fausto in Brooklyn, told me in an email. “It needs to be high quality, not too strong—because spritz are meant to be light and easy-to-drink—and bonus points if it’s colorful.” A lover of naturally-colored drinks, Campanale recommends making a spritz with herbal, bittersweet Contratto Aperitif and Vecchio Amaro del Capo. Fausto also serves a spritz made with Cynar, an herbal, artichoke-based bitter liqueur.

Liana Oster, bartender at Dante in Manhattan, characterizes the most important part of the cocktail as the fizz. “Whichever aspect of the drink is giving it its ‘spritz’ has to make the drink effervescent—it could be fresh and cold sparkling wine or super carbonated soda,” Oster says. “The bubbles are what make it so light and inviting.”

One flavor that seemed to show up in several responses from bartenders as complementary in a spritz is grapefruit. Chris Barry, a bartender and beverage consultant for a number of New York City bars, recommended incorporating a grapefruit soda, like San Pellegrino pompelmo. His ideal spritz is equal parts Aperol, grapefruit soda, and “bone-dry sparkling wine” with a grapefruit twist. “Spritzes by their very nature are simple drinks,” Barry said. He emphasized that the most important part of a spritz is temperature. “To keep things nice and fizzy, keep your soda water and sparkling wine ice cold.”

Of course, after a few classic spritzes, you may want to change things up even more. Dante serves a number of spritzes sans Aperol, swapping it for spirits like Mancino Bianco (an herbal vermouth with notes of chamomile, ginger, and aloe vera), St-Germain (an elderflower liqueur), and Cocchi Americano (a quinine-laced aromatic wine). Essentially, pair any floral or herbal liqueur with sparkling wine and a splash of soda and you’ll be spritzing like a pro.