Spritz and more
About fifteen years ago, the Beloved and I visited Venice on holiday. Every guidebook recommended we try the local aperitif drink. In Venice at the time, spritz was made with still wine and a little soda and flavoured with one of several bitter liquors. Our guidebook noted that, while Campari was generally the preferred flavouring south of the Grand Canal, most bars in the tourist north served spritz with Aperol, then virtually unknown at home. Perhaps the students and celebs on the south islands like the higher alcohol content of Campari! It was served in a straight-sided glass (usually a high-ball), filled with ice, fruit and olives.
How times have changed!
I've just done a quick Google image search, my search-term being simply "spritz." Most of the images show bright orange Aperol spritz in large wine glasses, although there are some old fashioned glasses. Orange slices are frequent, and there are a couple of raspberries and blueberries to be seen, but there is not a single olive in any of the images. The olives creep in when I add "Venice" to my search term, as do bottles of Select Aperitivo and Campari. This isn't a very scientific survey, I admit, but Google probably has more influence on people's drinking habits than any science does.
The Aperol spritz has become synonymous with the early evening aperitivo throughout most of northern Italy, but there is still room for variation. In Bologna, we found a small bar in a shopping arcade selling nothing but spritz. I think I counted a dozen versions. Every one was made with Prosecco and no soda, and each was garnished with fruits and olives to suit its key ingredient. As we've come to expect in Italy, we were furnished with a small plate and invited to help ourselves to crisps (potato chips), pretzels, peanuts and other salted snacks from bowls on the bar. I love to ring the changes with my aperitivi and to offer my guests something they might not have tried before, so the ideas from this tiny Bologna bar have been inspirational.
Sit back and imagine you're a student or a neighbour of Elton & David near the Accademia!
60ml still white wine or Prosecco
Stir well to mix, add a little soda water or more Prosecco and garnish with green olives and a slice of orange.
A lighter, fresher taste.
Mix well and top up with soda or more Prosecco. Garnish with lemon slices and/or green olives.
Mix well & top up with more Prosecco. Garnish with a variety of fruits: orange, lemon & lime slices, olives and even strawberries.
A lower-alcohol spritz.
20ml fresh orange juice
Mix well & top up with soda. Garnish, of course, with orange slices.
The bitterness of herbal Cynar gives this spritz depth and a mysterious darkness. It's my spritz of choice.
Mix well & top up with Prosecco. Garnish with olives & oranges.
|From top: Spritzone; Spritz con Bitters; Spritz Limone; Spritz Lite; Spritz Amaro
Next Time: Restaurant aperitif experiences, excellent and less so