The classic Aperol Spritz is rapidly brightening bars and restaurants across the country. Its relatively low alcohol content makes it the perfect weekday cocktail or patio tipple. It’s also super simple to make, requiring only three main ingredients and no special equipment. That is unless you consider a spoon “special equipment.”
History of the Aperol Spritz
The Aperol Spritz is one variation of a Spritz Veneziano, with origins dating back to early 19th century Northern Italy. At the time the Austrian occupiers, unaccustomed to the high alcohol content of the local wine, asked it be diluted with a “spritz” of water. Who knew Austrians were such lightweights?
Eventually countless regional variations popped up across Italy. The addition of dry herbal liqueurs, such as (you guessed it) Aperol, resulted in the cocktail so popular today.
Aperol Spritz Tasting Notes
The Aperol Spritz is a rare example of a perfect combination. Aperol’s zesty, bittersweet orange and soft herbal notes are opened up with the fruity, floral effervescence of Prosecco. Its distinct vibrant orange color makes this cocktail instantly recognizable across any bar or patio.
3 oz Aperol: It’s bright red-orange. Like, shockingly bright.
3 oz Prosecco: Different brands range from sweeter to dry. Feel free to experiment!
Splash of Club soda
Orange slice: Because an orange is perfect, that’s why.
Carefully fill a wine glass with ice. Larger cubes are ideal for slower dilution.
Pour 3 oz Prosecco
Pour 3 oz Aperol
Stir gently until ingredients are evenly mixed
Garnish with the orange slice
Aperol Spritz Variations
Strictly speaking, the Aperol Spritz is itself a variation of a traditional wine spritzer. Its relatively recent explosion in popularity inspired bars across the country to develop amazing cocktails that, while no longer an Aperol Spritz, are amazing spiritual cousins to this classic cocktail. Below are a few of the simpler variations.
Bicicletta: 3 oz pinot grigio, 2 oz Campari, a splash of soda water, orange wheel garnish
Campari Spritz: 3 oz dry sparkling rosé, 2 oz Campari, a splash of soda, lemon wheel garnish.
Feel free to adjust the ratio of Aperol to Prosecco based on personal preference. For example, more Prosecco may bring out more sweet fruit notes, while more Aperol results in a drier, more “lip-smacking” drink.
The sparkling wine used obviously affects overall flavor (see Substitutions below). Dry sparkling wines can provide a crisp acidity and satisfying bite, while sweet sparkling wines lend a softer floral flavor.
Aperol Spritz Substitutions
Campari, Lillet, Cappelletti, or any dry aperitif may be substituted for Aperol. If you’re not sure, look for a bottle full of reddish-orange liqueur with “aperitivo” on the label and you’ll probably be okay.
Any sparkling wine may be substituted for Prosecco—Champagne, brut, Cava, or even sparkling rosé. (In the video our bartender is using Cava.)
Consider using different garnishes based on whether your sparkling wine choice leans sweet or dry. Examples include blood orange, grapefruit, lemon, or raspberries.
When to Serve an Aperol Spritz
An Aperol Spritz is versatile enough to enjoy on any occasion.
Wedding receptions: Simplicity with a hint of sophistication elevates an already special day. Plus, the relatively low alcohol content means guests can enjoy themselves for longer (possibly reducing the chances of embarrassing situations later in the evening).
Brunch: Light cocktails are perfect for brunch with friends, especially if getting day wasted on a Sunday isn’t on the agenda.
Before a meal: The main ingredient Aperol is an aperitif, which helps stimulate the appetite.
Anything outdoors: Cookouts, picnics, boating, golf outings, or simply relaxing on the porch.
What to Serve with an Aperol Spritz
The Aperol Spritz is the perfect dinner cocktail. It offers a pleasant contrast to rich, savory dishes or provides a bright complement to lighter, more acidic foods. A few suggested pairings are listed below.
Salty snacks, like charcuterie, antipasti, and cheese
Fruits, especially acidic fruit like citrus, though this dry cocktail can help bring out the flavor of sweeter fruits as well.
Though much less boozy than other cocktails, always make sure to enjoy the Aperol Spritz responsibly.