Wednesday, June 01, 2011

SPRITZ INVESTIGATION...

My dream summer drink is the Aperol Spritz, which I have mentioned in passing here loads of times. It is the most refreshing drink when you're overheated and exhausted, and it reminds me of Venice, where I first saw almost everyone drinking this reddish orange concoction (on my first of many visits) fifteen years ago and assumed wrongly that it was Campari. Then for years my summer drink was the pre-mixed Campari & Soda - admittedly a big part of that had to do with the insanely cute little glass stamped bottles it comes in. But Aperol Spritz is much nicer. It just always hits the spot and in recent years it has become easier and easier to find in London.

Now, there is a bit of controversy here because a Spritz can be made in lots of different ways and none of them are particularly right or wrong. It is essentially any dry white wine, soda or sparkling mineral water with the addition of Aperol (similar to Campari but less cloying) or bitters based drinks such as Campari, Cynar or Select (only in Venice). With Aperol is the most usual way but you have to ask for "Spritz con l'Aperol".

Here's where the investigation part comes in...

When Spritzes started appearing in London about four years ago, first of all Fergus Henderson of St.John claimed it (made with Campari) as his own discovery and insisted it was called a Bicyclette in Italy - which others soon adopted. Then along the line, Aperol had a marketing push into the rest of Europe, the company probably realising that as the popularity of the Spritz had spread from northeastern Italy all across the country, it would elsewhere. Then Venetian bacaro-style Polpo opened, then sister restaurant Polpetto (edit - and now da Polpo) and suddenly you could ask for an Aperol Spritz all over the place without being met by blank looks. But they would sometimes make it with Aperol and - not white wine and sparkling water - but Prosecco. All this time I was all, "Um, ur doin it rong" but it turns out that the makers of Aperol are also big makers of Prosecco, so they've been trying to market "The Spritz" as being a combination of Aperol and Prosecco, thus taking allllll the profit. Furbo eh? Fine, marketing geniuses, but my only problem with that is that it tastes too bitter when paired with Prosecco and a bit too fizzy for my liking. The wine, the softness of sparkling water and the Aperol is the perfect combination.

I haven't even got on to the origins of the Spritz, whether or not a green olive should be added, how much ice, orange or lemon (orange with Aperol, lemon with any other bitters) or what type of glass to serve it in (in Venice it's usually served in a large stemmed glass, in London always in a tumbler), but it's all down to personal preference and as with most culinary things in Italy, the "right" way of doing it will vary from town to town and everyone will think that their way is the right way.

All this to say that here I present to you my preferred, but entirely not definitive version of the Aperol Spritz - which after all that could not be simpler...

To pretend you're in Italy say, "Che ne dici di uno spritz"? (Kay ne deechi di uno spritz?) (What about having a spritz?)

Put two or three ice cubes in a short tumbler, add a thick slice of orange and add:

One part Aperol (in London I usually buy it at the off licence in Old Compton Street, Soho)

One part any dry white wine

One part sparkling mineral water or soda


Cin Cin / Cheers!

{Research conducted with assistance from Anna & Ale - grazie e baci!}

9 comments:

If Jane said...

ah yes...a fitting post for the first of june!! my italian friend whose partner is from venecia always has a little anecdote re: alcohol or food...and the furbp-ery that is involved. of course this adds the charm :)) i sense you are ready for a little trip to italia, huh?

Rose said...

good to know that it should be white wine and soda! A very good post, I will be heading over to Old Compton St very shortly I think...

Cheryl said...

Sounds refreshing! I will give it a go. Cin Cin!

charlotte said...

ah, the spritzes! i just picked up my shots. x

Anonymous said...

yes, time for a visit!!
xo
Mia

Claire * Lola Is Beauty said...

If Jane - yes perhaps I am pining a bit for Venezia...

Rose - yes they usually have it, you know that one that has everything near the corner with Wardour St....

Cheryl - I love converting people to the ways of the Spritz.

Charlotte - thinking you need a series involving my claw-like hand clutching various alcoholic beverages - I see an exhibition!

Mia - Yes, I think I need to investigate further with research assistants!

Bombay Beauty said...

hope the cocktail will become a regular feature! there is something about adopting drinks in different cities. though i was probably 40 years too late to be trendy, you will recall i adopted the champagne cocktail in london. both this and the various versions of the spritz have some basics in common. some bitter, some fizz, and a touch of sweet. but in light of your excellent research i'll give this one a try! xo bb

Sneaky Magpie said...

oh, I had the same experience, for days I wondered what everyone was drinking, finally I asked and never looked back.

Anonymous said...

Dear Spritz Lovers!

The drink does taste best in Venice; it must have to do with the magical decomposition of that enchanting place. In any case the spritz comes from the Austrians during the time they conquered most of the Veneto. Austrians drink a "gespritzten" (white wine with soda water, the water in the wine is what makes it spritz-ed). The Venetian took over the drink and modified it with the ingredients you mentioned.
VoilĂ  & salute!