Summer of the Spritz

I began seeing them in Rome; orange-colored drinks in the hands of the beautiful people sitting at sidewalk cafes. But I had just arrived in Italy; I was in the mood for red wine and Moretti beer.

There were fewer of the drinks in Tuscany, where a really big red wine is required alongside the region’s giant steaks. It was when we arrived in Venice that they were unavoidable; an orange drink in every hand, the perfect foil to the heat and humidity in the world’s most magical city: the Aperol spritz.

A gondolier takes a break in the heat of the Venice afternoon

A gondolier takes a break in the heat of the Venice afternoon

Many years ago, when I lived in Santa Monica with my sister Laura — a globetrotting model, ex-Rod Steward girlfriend and drinker of fashionable aperitifs — I gained an appreciation for Campari and soda. The Aperol spritz is the sweeter, less bitter, more refreshing first cousin to the Campari and soda.

Our first spritz we had at Osteria Al Squero, a legendary spot in the Dorsoduro neighborhood close to our apartment. Here, people spilled out of the tiny space, known for its excellent cichetti (Venetian tapas), onto walls facing a canal. Across the canal, boat workers in a small yard sanded and planed gondolas in for repair, in a scenic tableau worthy of a Disney recreation.

The spritzes were €2, possibly accounting — along with the picturesque locale —for the bar’s fame. (As compared, say, with the €6 small beer you might snap down at a cafe in Paris.) We took our spritzes, repaired to the bridge just outside with a happy throng of fellow spritzers, and sipped. The first spritz vanishes in a matter of seconds, and you must go back in and get another.

Aperol spritz and homemade pizza

Aperol spritz and homemade pizza

I brought back many things from Europe — illicit food items, gifts, clothing, a new Italian wallet, photos and memories. But the most relevant thing for the end of a blazing hot Southern California summer was an abiding love of the Aperol spritz — a tradition that has translated perfectly well from the Italian.

Excuse me… but when it’s four o’clock, still in the 90s outside… I do as they would do in Venice. My spritz is calling.

Enjoy!

*    *    *

Aperol spritz
makes one drink

4 oz. proseco (or other sparkling wine)
2 oz. sparkling water
2 oz. Aperol
half orange slice

Fill a large glass with ice cubes. Pour over proseco, sparkling water and Aperol.

Garnish with an orange slice and serve.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. thejameskitchen
    Jul 29, 2016 @ 18:42:46

    One drink that definitely has deserved its great Renaissance: we used to drink Aperol Spritz either with white wine & sparkling water or just Prosecco & Aperol and have happily picked it up again, must try your Venetian version for a more appropriate afternoon drink or a great reason to drink a few more…

    Reply

    • scolgin
      Jul 29, 2016 @ 19:56:47

      Picture yourself on a shaded piazza overlooking the Grand Canal on a lazy afternoon with nowhere to be…

      Reply

      • thejameskitchen
        Jul 29, 2016 @ 20:40:21

        I am… small piazza, hidden around five corners, the table is laden with sardines in saor, something in thick black squid ink sauce, huge plate of linguine vongole. Definitely off to bed to continue that dream and hope those two ten weeks old guys are not waking up for the next three hours….

      • scolgin
        Jul 29, 2016 @ 21:45:03

        If you drink enough spritz, it won’t matter if they wake up. 😉 Sweet Aperol dreams…

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