New in 2024:
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.
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. , 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:
Fill a white-wine glass with ice.
Pour 3 parts of Prosecco (9 centiliters).
Follow with two parts of Aperol (6 CL).
Add a splash of soda (3 CL)
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.
Cynar (pronounced "chee-nar") a mild digestive liqueur made with herbs and artichokes.Although is the most common flavoring agent in a Venetian Spritz, non-conformists can ask for a Spritz made with (a more bitter and alcoholic apéritif) or
Your grandparents' drink for today's generations
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.
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.
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.)
BELOW: Since we were above the legal age limit for selfies, we took pictures of the young people around us.
BELOW: I did pose for these two photos (including Aperol's small-font "Drink Responsibly" disclaimer).
BELOW: Bartenders soon moved into place, ready to serve the official drinks.
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.
BELOW: When everybody had been served, the crowd lifted their glasses in a Guinness World Record-size toast.
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.
Durant Imboden has
written about Venice, Italy since 1996.
He covered Venice and European travel at About.com for 4-1/2 years before launching
Europe for Visitors (including
Venice for Visitors) with Cheryl
Imboden in 2001.
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