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4 Alternatives to an Aperol Spritz, From Some of the World’s Best Bartenders

The spritz—an Italian wine-based cocktail that seems tailor-made for warm-weather hangs—has a surprisingly illustrious history. Ever since it was first enjoyed by soldiers, merchants, and visitors from the Habsburg Empire in the Veneto region of Italy in the 1800s, the drink has been firmly etched in our collective consciousness as the quintessential beverage to sip when temperatures begin to heat up. But as iconic as it is, there isn’t actually a rigid recipe for what counts as a spritz—and maybe that’s part of its timeless allure. Its flexibility is celebrated all over Italy, where different cities and provinces have their own take on the drink.

“If you think that Italy wasn’t unified until the mid-1800s, it’s easy to understand why there is so much variety in every aspect of life from region to region, and that also goes for food and drink preferences,” says Rudi Carraro, the global brand ambassador for Select Aperitivo, which is the base bitters for the Venetian spritz, first invented in the northern Italian city in 1920. What you’ll find in that spritz that you may not find in another regional spritz (in addition to the splash of Select) are the olives. And then, of course, there’s arguably the most famous Spritz of them all: The Aperol spritz, which made its world debut in Padua in 1919.

“The spritz is a simple recipe which is also easily replicable at home; it has a low ABV, which means it can be enjoyed at any moment of the day,” Carraro says. “And I also think it has that connection to the Italian culture of aperitivo which makes it particularly appealing abroad.”

Currently, that global appeal couldn’t be more visible. Bars all over the world aren’t just serving traditional iterations of the spritz, but bartenders are taking them to the next level, too—updating original recipes with dynamic, tasty new twists. For Renato Marco Tonelli, beverage training director at Dante in New York City and Beverly Hills, it’s the simplicity of a spritz that makes it a perfect playground for creativity. “The spritz is very versatile as it’s typically made with just a few ingredients,” Tonelli says. “It serves as an ideal canvas for experimenting and trying out new seasonal variations. By swapping out or adding a few ingredients, you can make an entirely new cocktail.”

And you don’t have to be an award-winning mixologist to put your own stamp on this storied concoction, either. Tonelli says that as long as you keep the ABV low and follow the general three-two-one structure of a traditional Spritz recipe, you can develop your own take at home. That’s three parts prosecco, two parts aperitif (like your Select or Aperol), and one part soda water. “ You can play around with this by keeping the structure the same, but replacing the ingredients,” Tonelli explains. “For example, add Lambrusco or hard apple cider instead of prosecco.”



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