Aperitivo is an Italian tradition, a favorite past-time and a cultural necessity. There are many ways to enjoy this early evening social snack (it is the original Happy Hour, actually), whether it be wine or cocktails, but during the summertime, when the air is hot and your skin is tight from a day at the sea, the most popular drink is the Aperol Spritz. It is a very simple concoction, yet it is so refreshing, and the gorgeous, cheery orange color is enough to lift your spirits and put you in the mood to celebrate.
It's sunshine in a glass, really. "Un Spritz" is so easy to order anywhere in Italy that one can get quite accustomed to the consistency of always getting a good Spritz. Unfortunately, when you leave Italy, a Spritz seems to be a foreign concept and the mere mention can bring a confused look to even an experienced bartender. My friends that leave Italy experience a period of Spritz withdrawals when they realize that it is nearly impossible to have a fix outside the Italian border (which is similar to my experience of ordering a Monaco outside of France, but that's another story).
So what is Aperol? It was first presented in 1919 and according to the official website, it is:
"Bright orange in color, it has a unique taste, thanks to the secret recipe, which has never been changed, with infusions of selected ingredients including bitter and sweet oranges and many other herbs and roots in perfect proportions."
Here is the good news for all of you outside of Italy: You can actually make your own Spritz very easily and bring Italian aperitivo to your own home or on your own terrace. All you need is four ingredients:
2 parts Aperol Liquor
3 parts Prosecco (or dry sparkling wine)
Splash of seltzer/sparkling water
1 slice fresh orange
Place a thick slice of orange in a glass filled with ice. Pour the chilled prosecco over the orange and ice until 3/4 filled. Top with a splash of seltzer and finish by pouring the chilled Aperol in a circular motion until the glass is filled.
Serve with some snacks like chips, bruschetta or bread sticks and enjoy!
Aperol can be purchased at most international liquor stores, or online through my Amazon store.