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The Aperol Spritz

Grey-haired Venetians may prefer white wine, and tourists from the Temple Fielding era can't resist Bellinis. But for today's younger locals, students, and visitors in Venice, the Aperol Spritz is the drink of choice.

Aperol poster in bar window, Venice.

There was a time when the ombra (a.k.a. a "shadow," or small glass of wine) was the favored drink in Venice's bacari and other traditional bars. Prosecco, the Veneto's answer to Champagne or Cava, is still popular with drinkers of all ages. But the Spritz--preferably flavored with Aperol, a bittersweet orange-colored apéritif--has become the go-to drink for visitors who want to feel cool (especially on warm days when a fizzy chilled drink is more refreshing than a glass of vino).

The Venetian Spritz has been around since the 1950s, when an uncredited mixologist devised the concoction that Aperol now publishes as its official recipe:

1. Fill a white-wine glass with ice.

2. Pour 3 parts of Prosecco (9 centiliters).

3. Follow with two parts of Aperol (6 CL).

4. Add a splash of soda (3 CL)

5. Garnish with an orange slice.

The resulting cocktail is a bit like a liqueur-flavored soft drink, with an alcoholic content of about 10 percent and only a few more calories than a Coke.

Note: Although Aperol is the most common flavoring agent in a Venetian Spritz, non-conformists can ask for a Spritz made with Campari (a more bitter and alcoholic apéritif) or Cynar (pronounced "chee-nar") a mild digestive liqueur made with herbs and artichokes.


Your grandparents' drink for today's generations

Spritz poster in Venice bar window

Aperol (which is owned by the Campari Group) is no slouch when it comes to marketing. Today's generations of Spritzophiles probably aren't aware that their new favorite drink was already hip in the heyday of Manhattans, Marlboros, Marcello Mastroianni movies, and manual espresso machines.

To keep the Spritz tradition alive, Aperol's brand managers and PR staff have pulled off a number of attention-getting stunts over the years, including a "World's Largest Aperol Spritz Toast" event in Venice's Piazza San Marco  that set a Guinness World Record in 2012.

Aperol World Record banner in Venice's Piazza San Marco

Cheryl Imboden and I happened to walk through the Piazza when the Guinness World Record event was being set up, and we couldn't resist the offer of swag (including a free drink) when we were recruited by the organizers.

Here are photos of what came next:


BELOW: Each of us received an Aperol-themed t-shirt, matching sunglasses, and a voucher for one Spritz.

Aperol Spritz swag

Aperol sunglasses


BELOW: After donning our gear, we joined the mostly young crowd to wait for the official toast. (Soft drinks were provided to keep participants hydrated but sober until the crowd became large enough to set a world record.)

World's Largest Aperol Spritz Toast crowd

Aperol t-shirt wearers in Venice

Aperol Spritz World Record Toast, Venice, 2012


BELOW: Since we were above the legal age limit for selfies, we took pictures of the young people around us.

Hipster at Aperol Spritz World Record Toast in Venice, 2012

Blonde woman in Aperol gear, Venice, Italy


BELOW: I did pose for these two photos (including Aperol's small-font "Drink Responsibly" disclaimer).

Durant Imboden in Aperol Spritz t-shirt

Drink Responsibly message (Aperol Spritz t-shirt)


BELOW: Bartenders soon moved into place, ready to serve the official drinks.

Bartender with Aperol Spritzes


BELOW: At the command of "Let the pouring begin" (or words to that effect), Gruppo Campari staff began filling polycarbonate glasses with Prosecco, Aperol, and soda water.

Pouring of Aperol Spritz drinks at Guinness World Record Toast in Piazza San Marco

Prosecco in Venice, Italy

Aperol in Spritz glasses


BELOW: When everybody had been served, the crowd lifted their glasses in a Guinness World Record-size toast.

Aperol Spritz toast in Piazza San Marco, Venice

Official Guinness World Record "World's Largest Aperol Sprits Toast", Venice, 2021


BELOW: After the event, many of the tipplers just tossed their polycarbonate Aperol Spritz glasses onto the paving stones. We collected a set of eight tumblers and took them back to our apartment for washing. They now reside in a kitchen cabinet as souvenirs of the World's Largest Aperol Spritz Toast, and we use them regularly.

Aperol Spritz polycarbonate glasses in dishpan