Last Updated on October 21, 2023 by bigscoots
Dating back to the 50s, Aperol Spritz has long been a favourite pre-dinner drink in its native country, Italy. However, it’s only relatively recently that this iconic Italian cocktail has gained international popularity. Today, you can find Aperol Spritz being drunk in restaurants, cocktail bars, brunch cafes, and homes all over the world. Whether you’re sitting in an Italian piazza or your own back garden, Aperol Spritz is the perfect thirst-quenching cocktail to enjoy outside on a sunny day. In this article, we’ll share a super easy recipe for how to make an Aperol Spritz and give you some variations on this classic cocktail.
What is Aperol Spritz?
First of all, what is an Aperol Spritz? It’s a light and refreshing wine-based Italian cocktail that has a distinctive orange colour and aromatic citrusy taste. The colour, taste and name are all thanks to the liqueur, Aperol, which forms part of the base for this popular cocktail. It originated in Northern Italy and is still one of the region’s most popular drinks. It’s typically drunk as an aperitif, an alcoholic beverage served before a meal to stimulate the appetite. In its simplest and classic form, Aperol Spritz is made with Prosecco, Aperol liqueur and soda water. It is also known as a Spritz Veneziano, after the city of Venice where the cocktail originated. Find out more about Italian Aperitivo (and how to do it).
What is Aperol liquer?
Aperol is a classic Italian bitter liqueur made from an infusion of herbs and roots. The exact recipe remains a tightly-guarded secret, but the known ingredients include bitter and sweet oranges and rhubarb. This popular Italian drink is often described as the less alcoholic little brother of Campari.
The classic Aperol Spritz recipe is a simple and easy one to master. This makes it a great cocktail if you’re new to cocktail making or want a quick and easy cocktail that is a crowd-pleaser.
Here’s what you’ll need to make an Aperol Spritz. Serves 2.
- 100 ml (3 oz) Aperol liquer
- 150 ml (5 oz) Prosecco (chilled)
- Soda water to taste (chilled)
- 2 orange slices
- Plenty of chunky ice
Metric to Ounce conversions are appoximate.
Although we’ve included specific measures above, Aperol Spritz is a really forgiving cocktail and it’s just as easy to free-pour this cocktail so long as you follow the golden rule – use more Prosecco than Aperol to take the edge off the natural Aperol bitterness.
How to make an Aperol Spritz:
- Fill a glass with ice – make sure the glass is nearly full
- Add the Aperol and Prosecco to the glass and stir (don’t shake)
- Top with a splash of soda
- Garnish with an orange slice
The ratio of Aperol to Prosecco can vary depending on your personal taste. Some bars and restaurants keep things simple and make their Aperol Spritz with equal parts Aperol and Prosecco. But we enjoy ours the ‘official way’ (as stated by Aperol themselves) with three parts Prosecco to two parts Aperol. What can we say? We’re partial to Prosecco around here.
Like Prosecco cocktails? Have you tried a Passion Fruit Martini?
What is the best Prosecco to use?
While any sparkling wine can technically be used in a Spritz, a proper Italian Aperol Spritz requires proper Italian Prosecco.
Prosecco is a sparkling white wine that originates from the Prosecco region of Northern Italy, just an hour from Venice. It is produced from the Glera grape and uses the ‘Charmat method’ (or tank method) of fermentation. Prosecco differs from French Champagne not only in its grapes and production method but also in its taste profile. Prosecco has subtle fruity and floral notes and light and airy bubbles, making it ideal for use in cocktails.
If you want to get technical, there is a quality distinction between DOC and DOCG Prosecco and we always go for the premium DOCG Prosecco, even in cocktails. However, if you don’t have a huge range to Prosecco to choose from in your local supermarket or you’re serving a crowd and don’t want to spend too much, focus instead on the level of sweetness.
Like all sparkling wine, Prosecco comes in varying levels of sweetness. We’d recommend using a brut (meaning dry/less sweet) Prosecco, so your Aperol Spritz isn’t too sweet. Italian aperitifs are traditionally bitter rather than sweet. But, if you do enjoy sweet cocktails, you can try making your Aperol Spritz with a dry Prosecco instead – confusingly in Italian wine classification dry actually means sweet. We still struggle to keep this fact straight and we’ve drunk a lot of Prosecco. We have a full guide on how to choose good Prosecco.
The great thing about Aperol Spritz is that you can tailor it to your taste, including adding a dash more (or less) soda water depending on how the drink tastes. Our tip: Make your cocktail but leave a little space at the top; stir and then add more of whatever you want to get the taste you’re after.
What is the best glass?
An Aperol Spritz cocktail is usually served in a large wine glass or an official spritz glass. You can also use a tall highball or Collins glass for a larger serve or an Old Fashioned glass for a smaller serve. Just don’t serve this cocktail in anything too small. Aperol Spritz is a long drink, not a short.
Looking for something a little bit different? Want to impress? There is plenty you can do to put a twist on the classic Aperol Spritz. Try some of these Aperol Spritz variations.
Rosé Aperol Spritz
Probably the simplest twist on the Aperol Spritz recipe. Swap the Prosecco for a sparkling rosé. Soda still works great in this variation, but you could also swap it for some passion fruit juice and a squeeze of lime to counter the bitterness of the Aperol. Use the same measures and recipes as above.
Strawberry Aperol Spritz
Soak some strawberries in syrup and add to the classic Aperol Spritz for a sweeter fruitier summer cocktail. Don’t forget to skip the orange in this variation.
Tropical Aperol Spritz
Replace the soda water with some pineapple juice and lime juice for a sweet tropical Spritz perfect for the beach. You can also swap the Prosecco for sparkling rosé in this Aperol Spritz variation. Garnish with a wheel of lime or pineapple wedge instead of the usual orange.
Swap the Aperol with Limoncello, a popular lemon liqueur from Italy’s Amalfi Coast, for another great citrusy Spritz. You can use the same proportions as a classic Aperol Spritz. We suggest swaping the orange garnish for lemon.
For a unique Asian-inspired take on the Aperol Spritz, switch out the Prosecco for Sake (a Japanese alcoholic fermented rice drink) and the soda for yuzu juice (Japanese citrus fruit). Add extra sake to balance out the bitterness of the Aperol and yuzu.
Tip: Between the sunshine and the deliciousness of an Aperol Spritz, it’s easy to go a bit wild. If you end up with a hangover, here are our guides to help you back to health: How to Ease Your Hangover in 7 Simple Steps and 15 Best Hangover Foods (and Foods to Avoid).
What does an Aperol Spritz taste like?
Aperol Spritz is a light and refreshing cocktail with an aromatic citrusy taste. The zesty, bittersweet orange flavour with herbal and woody notes from the Aperol is perfectly complemented by the subtle sweetness, floral notes, and delicate bubbles of the Prosecco. The Prosecco both softens and enhances the taste of the Aperol, which many people find too bittersweet to drink neat.
Perfect for drinking al fresco in the summer months, in just one sip you’ll be transported to a charming Piazza in Venice, watching gondolas float down the canals as the sun sets over the city. There’s really nothing quite like it.
An Aperol Spritz cocktail is traditionally served as a pre-dinner apéritif in the late afternoon or early evening. So it is often paired with light Mediterranean appetizers and salty snacks to help whet the appetite. In Italy, when you enjoy an aperitif with small snacks while socialising with friends after work, it is known as aperitivo.
So which foods go best with Aperol Spritz? Salty, fatty and sweet foods make the best Prosecco food pairings. Foods that fall into these categories can also help take the edge off the bitter flavour of Aperol and slice through the subtle acidity of Prosecco.
Some ideal food pairings with Aperol Spritz include:
- Potato chips
- Creamy Italian cheeses such as fresh mozzarella, burrata or goats cheese
- Cured meats such as prosciutto or salami
- Smoked salmon
- Focaccia and other topped bread
- Fresh fruits and dried fruits
If you want to add a traditional Italian twist, do as the locals – in the cocktail’s native home of Venice, Aperol Spritz is usually served alongside Cicchetti at aperitivo. Cicchetti are small plates and finger foods such as crostini (“little toasts” with toppings), polpette (mini meatballs), arancini (risotto balls), and tramezzini (small soft white bread sandwiches).
How many calories in Aperol Spritz
We’ve left this to the end because we don’t want to spoil the fun, but we do know some of you are watching your intake. So, this is for you. There are around 150-200 calories in an average Aperol Spritz. To decrease the number of calories, add more soda and less Aperol and Prosecco. This will also make the cocktail less boozy. Try nibbling on your booze-soaked orange garnish (yes, the skin is edible) and opt for nuts, dried fruit and popcorn to accompany your Spritz.
That’s our guide to how to make a classic Aperol Spritz, together with with variations. Got any questions or suggestions, let us know in the comments below.
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