One of my absolute favourite summer drinks is the slightly bitter, but extremely refreshing Italian Spritz. It is super easy to make, and even easier to drink… the bonus is that you can adjust the taste to suit you.
Spritz has gained in popularity over the past few years, especially during the summer months. Even in Melbourne, you will find people in bars and restaurants (Italian ~ optional) drinking this distinctive beverage. But what is a Spritz, and where did it come from?
Spritz itself is not a particularly old drink, but it does have an interesting history. The origins of the Venetian Spritz began in Northern Italy in the Lombardy-Venetian region, and was invented around the 19th century by Hapsburg soldiers who found the local wines too strong.
Spritz comes from the Austrian word ‘Spritzen‘ – meaning to splash
The soldiers would add ‘a splash’ of sparking water to their wine to make it lighter, and therefore easier to drink.
By the 20th century Italians replaced the water with seltzer, before finally adding bitters to the mix as well.
What is Spritz?
The modern Spritz is an alcoholic long drink made up of sparkling white wine or prosecco, a bitter liqueur, and soda water with an orange peel mixed in.
The International Bartender Association included it in its official list in 2011 with the name of ‘spritz veneziano’.
You can follow the traditional recipe, or add your own twist to it!
The recipe calls for 1/3 portions poured over ice cubes:
6 parts sparking white wine or prosecco
4 parts liqueur (Aperol, Campari, Select or Cynar)
a splash of soda or sparking water
a thin slice of orange or lemon to garnish
Choice of glass is yours, whether it is a standard low glass, or served in a wine glass. However everywhere I ordered it in Northern Italy (and even at home in Melbourne), it was always served in a long stemmed wine glass.
Types of Spritz
There isn’t just one type of spritz. Depending on the kind of liqueur used, spritz can be any of the following:
SPRITZ BIANCO – the original Austrian version with white wine mixed with either soda water or sparkling water. Lemon peel is optional.
APEROL SPRITZ – the most famous variation is made using Aperol. A liqueur made from an infusion of orange, herbs and roots which has a sweeter taste than Campari.
CAMPARI SPRITZ – A close second to Aperol for popularity. Campari gives the spritz a much more bitter flavour from the herbs and aromatic plants infused in the alcohol, and it also has the highest alcohol content of all the variations. Serve with an orange peel.
SELECT SPRITZ – Specific to Venezia, and considered to be the original Venetian Spritz, is the Select. Select is a liqueur invented in Venice around 1920, and is made from 30 different herbs, including rhubarb and juniper berries making it sweet in flavour.
CYNAR SPRITZ – Cynar is another liqueur unique to Venice. Invented around 1952, Cynar has a bitter flavour and is made from artichokes.