Aperitivo Hour with Spritz!
Hi everybody! So most of you know that I lived in Venice for 15 years. I'm often asked what I miss most about being in Venice and I have to say that it's probably the Aperitivo Hour. It's not about the drink itself but it's the culture and the feeling of being able to go out every evening (on your way home from work) and stop in one of your favorite bars and inevitably finding friends there, having a spritz, catching up, kind of relaxing, winding down after the day. It's just part of the culture and almost a religious experience because we literally do a stop for Spritz every day.
I want to tell you about the history of where Spritz comes from. Apparently, when the Austrians were occupying Venezia, the Veneto's wines were a bit too strong for them. So they asked the bars to "spritz" them with some sparkling water to lighten the wine. And that's actually where the Spritz as an idea started. Then, both in Lombardia and Veneto, there was the creation of these wonderful bitter aperitivo style liqueurs. They're all proprietary blends so each one has a different flavor profile. They are made with blends of flowers, herbs, fruits and can have over 200 ingredients!
But they all have one thing in common... they are an aperitivo! Which means to start your appetite. The idea is to have this drink before dinner, maybe with a nice Cicchetti (salty bite, or something yummy to go along with it) to start your evening and to open your appetite.
We've got a number of options, so it's about finding the one that you like the most!
Aperol is the sweetest of them all and also the lightest alcohol by volume. It was actually invented in Padua, which is a town adjacent to Venice. It was founded in 1919 and it was later purchased by Campari. When Campari purchased Aperol, they decided to take that brand and make it the Venetian Spritz iconic aperitif. And that's why Aperol is so famous, because they were put a lot of money behind the marketing of it.
Cappelletti is wine-based so it's not distilled liqueur, meaning that all of my beer and wine clients who don't have a liquor license, can use this to make a Spritz and it's lovely!
It's kind of a step up from Aperol on the sweetness, it has a bit more of a bitter flavor.
Select is the aperitivo that was invented in Venice. It says on the label "from Venice" and it was established in 1920. This liquor gets closer to the bitter Campari flavor, but still a little bit sweeter. It also has a beautiful dark red color (which I find really beautiful in the glass).
Ramazzotti might be the oldest one, founded in 1815 in Milan. They claim to be the very first creator of a bitter Amaro aperitivo. It is made of a secret blend of 33 herbs and roots, and uses no artificial color. Ramazzotti is dark brown in color and fairly opaque. It has a strong root beer-citrus aroma and has a nice balance between bitter and sweet. It has a 30% alcohol by volume!
Campari we are all familiar with and it's my personal favorite. ts vibrant red colour, intense aroma and distinctive bitter taste make it extremely versatile, and the perfect base for some of the most famous cocktails around the world.
It has a dark color, almost like brown because it comes from a predominance of artichokes in the recipe. The secret recipe, which has remained the same since its creation, is based on some of the natural substances found in the artichokes, including ‘cynarine’.
Created by Angelo Dalle Molle, a Venetian entrepreneur and philanthropist, Cynar was launched in Italy in 1952. Since then, the brand has grown and is now distributed internationally.
The typical recipe for a spritz is about 1/3 liqueur, 1/3 prosecco, and 1/3 sparkling water served over ice and garnished with a slice of orange. Here’s the beauty of this recipe, make it your way! Some like to add more prosecco, others more sparkling water, it’s up to you! Try it and adjust it to your taste. Also, each Amaro liqueur has different levels of sweetness and bitterness and are all worth trying!
-Aperol, Campari or your favorite liqueur
-Orange slices 🍊
-Fill a large wine glass about a third of the way with ice
-Add enough Aperol, Campari or your favorite liqueur to almost cover the ice
-Pour in the prosecco until you reach the halfway point on your glass
-Top with sparkling water as desired
-Garnish with an orange slice and, if you want to be Venetian about it, add a green olive!
-Serve with your favorite cicchetti
Most importantly, don’t forget to breath and enjoy this special aperitivo time with friends and family! Cin cin, San Diego!! 🥂