Is there a more refreshing, celebratory, warm weather aperitivo than the classic Aperol Spritz?
I think not.
This classic Italian cocktail transports me to the lush Amalfi Coast. The orange hue that somehow emits a vintage-like glow, the bubbly crisp prosecco, the fresh slice of in-season orange, and the nice of heap of ice that tells you, baby it's warm outside, all coalesce into an incredibly refreshing, dare I say fun aperitivo that is as joyous as summer itself. How's that for an intro?
The Aperol Spritz as we know it seems to have made its debut in Italy in the 1950's, which is perhaps why it conjures up those lovely images of vespas and women in swing dresses holding onto the waists of dashing young Italian men as they cruise through Positano. Or am I the only one who sees all that?
Alas, not everyone agrees with me (what?!) In 2019, The New York Times published a piece by food writer Rebekah Peppler, titled, "The Aperol Spritz Is Not a Good Drink." In the piece, Peppler writes, "Served in branded, jumbo wine glasses, the sugary apéritif is paired with low-quality prosecco, soda water and an outsize orange slice, resulting in something that drinks like a Capri Sun after soccer practice on a hot day. Not in a good way." Well, darling Rebekah, how can two intelligent women see the same thing so very differently? It's worth noting, however, that Peppler caused a social media storm with her daring claims, and bloggers and aperol lovers all over the world took the internet to cry foul and give Rebekah a piece of their mind.
Grub Street wrote, "As rare as it is that something can rally all Americans to agree on a single opinion, the New York Times has done just that...Immediately, the entire internet formed a unified front, offering a counterpoint: Yes, it is."
There are perhaps more sophisticated cocktails, even more sophisticated spritzes, but this one doesn't care to be a complex concoction of bitters and mashed herbs, shaken vigorously between the hands of a suspender-wearing mixologist. The Aperol Spritz is...easy. As easy as a giant float on the surface of a crystal clear backyard pool. Unlike so many other things in life, it resists being complicated.
So, who will you trust: Rebekah or I?
The only way to know is to give the cocktail a try. I'll give Rebekah credit for one thing—criticism of the cheap prosecco. While you probably don't want to waste your top-shelf prosecco by drowning it out in a chorus of aperol and seltzer water, maybe grab a bottle that's on the shelf at your waist, as opposed to the floor. Quality ingredients matter no matter what you're whipping together. As a light, refreshing cocktail, the Aperol Spritz is traditionally enjoyed before dinner (aperitif) with a bit of a snack, washing away the stresses of the day and getting your spirits ready for the meal to come.
In a nice wine glass (I use this one) filled generously with ice, mix one part prosecco with one part aperol, about three ounces of each. Fill the rest of the glass with bubbly soda water. Stir. Add a slice of orange. And enjoy.