A toast to the aperol spritz

This is the summer of the Aperol spritz. The cocktail has for decades been popular in Italy as a light pre-dinner cocktail and has made its way to America. Typically made with Aperol, sparkling wine, oranges and club soda, the spritz is big this year. Why now? Well, besides being delicious and refreshing, the Aperol spritz is also highly Instagrammable and fairly easy to make, but the remnants of last year’s U.S. marketing campaign led by Aperol’s parent company Campari probably didn’t hurt either.

The classic Italian version is made with Aperol, prosecco, soda water and an orange slice. Aperol is a slightly bitter, orange flavored, low-alcohol (11 percent ABV) spirit. It’s low proof, for the leisurely kind of drinking that happens on long summer evenings or at afternoon barbecues. They’re not just delicious and refreshing, they’re also low enough in alcohol that you can keep drinking for a long time without getting wasted.

An Aperol spritz is an easygoing drink. The summer sunset color is inviting. In Italy, from piazzas to cobble alleys, you’ll find locals downing spritz al bitter after spritz al bitter during apertivo, their version of happy hour. Italians drink the spritz like water. It accompanies every meal, even breakfast at times, and is the summertime Italian cure to everything: heartache, illness and dehydration.

But back in the States, the spritz is treated more as a summer libation than a pre-dinner drink.

Try serving it for your next party. No bar tools needed. You can sub a dry sparkling wine for prosecco or use white wine and rely on club soda for the fizz. In America, the drink is garnished with a slice of orange. Or pretend you’re in Venice, and garnish with an olive.

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