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Afternoon Spritz

Photo and cocktail by Clayton Crawford.

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When the sun hangs low and all your emails are answered (or at least “read”), then it’s time to sit down and sip on a light, bright Afternoon Spritz. Spritzers are easy to make, delicious to drink, and suitable for any occasion. 

They originated, like so many incredible beverages, in Italy when it was under the control of the Austro-Hungarian Empire around the early 1800s. The occupying forces found Italian wine “too strong” for their consumption, and looked for a beverage closer to their native beer. Thus the spritzer was born, and in Hungary, there are ten different names for a spritzer as well as a national festival in honor of the zesty beverage. However, in the glimmering canals of Venice, the spritzer gained new life with the addition of aperitifs and amaros like Aperol and Cynar as well as the region’s light, dry prosecco. Through tourism and good taste, the spritz made its way to the Americas where it became something of recent controversy.

“The Aperol Spritz Is Not a Good Drink.” claimed the New York Times, and that ruffled a few thousand people’s feathers, myself included. After a wave of criticism from social media (but still not nearly as much as when the New York Times said the best bagels were in California), people struck out at the New York Times with a “Rally for Aperol” beginning in Brooklyn and moving across the country. Aperol, which is made from rhubarb, two kinds of oranges, and several other secret ingredients, is a unique, complex flavor that isn’t to everyone’s taste, but that doesn’t mean it is not a good drink, sorry NYT. 

At the heart of the Aperol Spritz, or Spritz Veneziano as it’s often called, is a spritzer formula perfect for any afternoon: one part sparkling water, two parts aperitif, and three parts sparkling wine. A good spritz can be made with wine, liqueur, tea, or just about anything in your bar, and you can build them right in the glass or make a big batch in a pitcher. The Afternoon Spritz uses whatever you have lying around the house to make a clean, low-alcohol cocktail that delivers a fresh, juicy flavor profile, and it is topped with a nice, dry cava to lend the drink a zesty cushion of carbonation. Pour in whatever aperitif suits your fancy (like Campari or Aperol) or feel free to substitute an amaro, a liqueur, or even a short pour of wine!

Photo and cocktail by Clayton Crawford.

Afternoon Spritz

Prep Time: 3 min

Ingredients

  • 1 OZ SPARKLING WATER
  • 2 OZ APERITIF (LIKE DON CICCIO & FIGLI’S AMBROSIA OR APEROL)
  • 3 OZ CAVA (OR DRY PROSECCO)

Garnish

  • Blood Orange Slice

Directions

Pro Tips

  • A spritz is endlessly customizable, so you can try your hand at stirring up some special spritzes that satisfy any thirst. If you stick to the rule of 1:2:3 that’s one part sparkling water to two parts spirit (or liqueur) to three parts dry sparkling wine, you can be pretty sure it will be tasty. I’ve made an elderflower spritz with a few ounces of St. Germaine I had left in the bottom of the bottle, and I’ve poured in a few ounces of Cynar, the famous (or infamous) artichoke-based amaro.

Photo and cocktail by Clayton Crawford.

SUSTAINABLE SPIRITS

Don Ciccio & Figli is a DC-based spirit company using recipes over a century old. The small team ships their handcrafted spirits to almost every state in the country, so no matter where you are, you can taste the Amalfi Coast. They make all their spirits with 100 percent natural ingredients, and they offer free tasting at their Sirena bar. With bold flavors featuring artichokes, mandarins, and even leeks, their spirits are steeped in history and blended to perfection.

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