We can all agree that certain types of cocktails are just plain good. Margarita? Yum. A Long Island Iced Tea? Yes, please. Vodka Collins. I’ll have two, thankyouverymuch.
But the New York Times recently divided the internet with an article that declared the Aperol Spritz as “not a good drink.”
“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,” Rebekah Peppler wrote in an essay for the paper.
Here’s the thing: While they’re not as popular as a gin and tonic, Aperol Spritz cocktails are a good drink — if you make them the right way.
What is Aperol?
As Peppler mentioned in her takedown, an Aperol spritz is an Italian apéritif — or a before-dinner drink — that’s experiencing a resurgence in the United States. Aperol spritz recipes call for only a few ingredients, including its namesake alcohol, Aperol.
Aperol was developed in Italy and first hit the market in 1919, but didn’t get popular until after the end of World War II. It’s made with orange and rhubarb, along with extracts from the cinchona tree and the gentian herb — both used to help stimulate the appetite — and contains 11 percent alcohol by volume.
What’s the Difference Between Aperol and Campari?
Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson weighed in recently on the whole Aperol debate and it seems like she’s also in the anti-Aperol camp.
“Why would anyone have a Tizer-like Aperol Spritz when you could have a Campari Soda…?” she said.
But what’s the difference?
Aperol looks and tastes a lot like Campari, another Italian apéritif commonly used in cocktails. They both have the same amount of sugar and smell similar, but Campari is a lot darker in color with a bitter taste and more than twice the alcohol (anywhere from 20.5 percent to 28.5 percent alcohol by volume, depending on the country).
Aperol vs. Campari: Which is Better?
Campari is good if you like a more bitter cocktail, but an Aperol Spritz is the perfect summer drink that’s fruity, sweet and lighter on alcohol (meaning you won’t get drunk as quickly).
The brains at Aperol put it this way:
“The orange is unmistakable, a vibrant color which lights up your toasts and adds joy to the moment. Everything else is brought to the table by the inner light-hearted spirit of the Aperol Spritz: the spirit that makes people spontaneously come together and sparks nothing but good times. This spirit is also unstoppable: it’s hard to hold back from enjoying a toast with friends, one orange sip at a time.”
How to Make an Aperol Spritz
Anything known as an Italian apéritif has to be difficult to make, right? Nope. Even the most novice of bartenders can easily make one in just a few simple steps.
Get the Right Aperol Spritz Ingredients
All you need to make any number of Aperol Spritz recipes is a few simple ingredients:
- Aperol (available both online and at most liquor stores)
- Prosecco (available online and anywhere you can buy champagne)
- Soda water
- Orange slices
Traditional Aperol Spritz Recipe
It’s easy to make an Aperol Spritz as long as you get the right ratios.
- Fill a large wine glass with ice (we like these wine glasses)
- Pour in Prosecco
- Add an equal amount of Aperol
- Add a splash of soda
- Top with an orange slice
Seriously, that’s all it takes.
What to Eat With an Aperol Spritz
Every cocktail needs some munchies to go with it — and the Aperol Spritz is no exception.
“Throughout the years Aperol Spritz became a versatile drink suitable to different type of food and moments, from a quick toast after a long day to those relaxed brunches we’d all love to have on a Sunday morning,” the makers of of Aperol write on their website.
They recommend serving Aperol Spritz cocktails with traditional snacks known as cicchetti. These are “small dishes that usually include tiny sandwiches, plates of olives and tiny portions of local dishes.”
Of course, you don’t have to serve those exact snacks to enjoy an Aperol Spritz. The key is to have small bites — ranging from cheese to fruit — that your guests can nibble on.
Other Aperol Spritz Recipes to Try
There’s the traditional Aperol Spritz recipe, though some innovative bartenders and mixologists have created their own versions.
Kombucha Campari Spritz
Ok, it might seem a little weird to start off the list with a recipe that calls for Campari, but we added it because you can easily swap out the Campari for Aperol. Why try it? The orange kombucha, of course! A boozy beverage that helps with gut health? Sign us up.
Blackberry Aperol Spritz Cocktail Recipe
This delicious blue-hued drink is easy to make: simply add blackberry syrup to the traditional Aperol recipe and you've got a drink that'll stand out during summer drinks on the patio.
Blueberry Orange Spritz Recipe
A handful of muddled blueberries and some freshly squeezed lemon juice is all that's needed to make this spin on the traditional Aperol spritz recipe. And bonus: You'll look super cool when you hold this drink during a cocktail party.
Winter Aperol Spritz Cocktail
The Aperol spritz is strictly a summer drink, right? Not so fast! This winterized version adds cranberry juice and a sprig of rosemary to the mix for a cold-weather cocktail perfect for Christmas parties.
Pear Aperol Spritz Recipe
Adding a hard pear cider, like Rekorderlig, to an Aperol spritz adds a bit of pizazz to an already exotic drink. Garnish with a pear for a cocktail that everyone will be staring at.
Aperol Spritz Sangria
Brown sugar is the secret ingredient in this refreshing recipe. The sugar — plus the combination of fruit flavors and booze — adds some seriously delicious dimension to this fun summer cocktail.
This recipe is super simple to make. Simply combine Aperol with lemon bitters (like Thomas Henry Bitter Lemon) and pour over ice and boom: An easy peasy boozy treat.