Happy Hour History: The Aperol Spritz

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If you like a good spritz, you can thank the Habsburgs. The cocktail was the incidental creation of the Austro-Hungarian occupation of Venice in the early 1800s. Apparently, the local wine was too much for fussy German palates so the soldiers asked for a “spritzen” of water to dilute it.

Eventually, carbonated water replaced still, and various liquors were added to enhance the flavor and give an extra kick. The practice caught on, and spritzes became one of Italy’s most ubiquitous cocktails. According to Campari, approximately 300,000 spritzes are consumed daily in Venice alone.

The most famous recipe is perhaps the Aperol Spritz. A low-alcohol aperitif made with orange, rhubarb and gentian, Aperol was first produced by the Barbieri brothers in 1919. Campari acquired the brand in 2003, and has since made a big push in marketing the Aperol Spritz as Italy’s unofficial official cocktail with videos like this.

Aperol Spritz Recipe

3 parts prosecco (or any dry sparkling wine)
2 parts Aperol
1 part soda

Directions: Add ice and prosecco to a white wine or rocks glass. Add soda. Pour the Aperol over the top. Garnish with an orange slice.

Enjoy while listening to this.

Jim Sabataso is a writer, part-time bartender, and full-time cocktail enthusiast living in Vermont. Follow him on Twitter @JimSabataso