In northern Italy there is a strong tradition of aperitivo. The custom of having a bitter or acidic Italian drink to whet the appetite and prepare the palate for dinner dates back well over a century. The more modern incarnation of this tradition has an array of lite appetizers accompanying the Italian cocktail. And currently the nearly ubiquitous drink of choice is the Aperol Spritz.
The Aperol Spritz has been around since the fifties but really took off when Aperol was acquired by rival liqueur company Campari in 2003. Campari featured the Spritz in a marketing campaign that greatly increased the popularity of the drink.
How to make a Spritz Cocktail
The cocktail itself is very simple. Part of the marketing campaign included the recipe, 3,2,1. Three parts prosecco, two parts Aperol, and one splash of soda. The drink is a perfect balance of citrus, bitter, sweet, acidic, bubbly freshness!
Aperol and other Italian Liqueurs
Aperol is only one of the bitter liqueurs popular in northern Italy. The liqueurs are made by infusing a spirit with different botanicals such as citrus, spices, herbs, and roots. Some of the popular brands include Aperol, Campari, Luxardo Bitter, Select Aperitivo, Contratto Bitter, Cynar.
Aperol and those with “Aperitivo” in their names are usually a little sweeter, less bitter, and tending toward orange in color. Campari and those labeled Bitter have more of a bite to them and are deep red in color. Cynar uses artichokes in its recipe!
Like anything this good and simple, there are many variations. Just using any of the above liqueurs and keeping to the 3,2,1 ratio gives you tons of choices. Another favorite during aperitivo in Italy is a Negroni Sbagliato. A Negroni is equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. A Negroni Sbagliato substitutes prosecco for the gin.
The Euro Travel Coach (ETC) House Cocktail is a Campari Spritz. We love the more bitter taste and dark red color of Campari. We also like to use Cava, a Spanish sparkling wine made in the Traditional Method like Champagne. This is our go to aperitivo!
The ETC House Campari Spritz Cocktail
3 parts Cava
2 parts Campari
1 splash of soda water
1 orange slice
Fill a nice wine glass about half full of ice. Pour in the Cava until just under half full. Add enough Campari to fill half the empty space on top. Splash with a little soda and garnish with the orange slice. It is the perfect pre dinner cocktail and truth be told, we drink them year round!
Note: we like to keep our Campari in the freezer.
Do you have a favorite “house cocktail”? Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you!
How would you like to visit northern Italy and taste one of these cocktails in its natural setting? We can help with that! Remember that we are always available to you and your friends and family for custom trip planning to Europe. We are experts in creating custom travel itineraries and leading small group trips in Europe. You can always reach Betsy at email@example.com. We would love to help you make your travel dreams to Europe come true!
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