After the New York Times notoriously published an article in May lambasting the Aperol Spritz, basically the entire internet came to its rescue: counter arguments arrived by the hour from The Washington Post to NPR to my friend Julie, who succinctly queried the article’s author on Instagram: “Who hurt you?” Along with the backlash arrived a new era for the Aperol Spritz and other aperitif libations like it.
Spritzers, basically a softening of wine with soda, and spritzes, a winning combination of lower-proof spirits or liqueurs, sparkling wine, and soda, are built on a solid foundation: sometimes the occasion calls for something low-maintenance, refreshing, and bubbly. (Also sometimes the occasion calls for you not acting a drunken fool. Occasions such as “adulthood” come to mind.)
Read More: Low-Alcohol Drinks for Summer Sipping
Spritzes should not be confused with other sparkling cocktails such as a French 75, whose taste is indeed crisp and refreshing but that masks a spirited punch. (Hence its being named for a World War I 75mm field gun.) And who has time to shake cocktails in the summer anyway, when the beach, barbecue, or ballgame awaits?
In the spirit of keeping it classy this summer, let the spirit of the spritz serve as your summer spirit guide: effervescent, easy-going, and elegant. Who doesn’t want more of all of that in their life? Try these recipes, or develop your own by experimenting with bitters, vermouth, or other liqueurs.
Much like wings to residents of Buffalo, to Venetians it’s simply a spritz. See for yourself what all the fuss is about with the OG aperitif sparkler, with its sunset color and notes of bitter orange. It’s meant to be lighter in alcohol, but have a few over brunch and you might find yourself writing your own letter to the editor. Get our Aperol Spritz recipe.
Spritz: Italy's Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, $12.88 on Amazon
With 50 recipes for classic and updated spritz cocktails, this will keep you hydrated all summer long.
A spritzer is to wine as a shandy is to beer: a way to extend the sessionability of the drink while adding an additional boost of bubbly refreshment. The recipe here calls for chardonnay, a typically full-bodied, oaky white wine, but you can try it with any white, from tart and dry chenin blanc to a fruity, off-dry riesling. Get our White Wine Spritzer recipe.
Despite its moniker, nary a shake nor stir is required in this easy spritzer variation. Additional zing is added via a homemade lemon syrup—hardly a bad thing to keep on hand this summer for spritzers, spritzes, iced teas, or G&Ts. Get our White Spritz Cocktail recipe.
Stemless Wine Glasses, Set of 4 for $11.00 on Amazon
Stemless wine glasses are the natural in-between whether your spritz calls for a wine glass or a tall glass. Plus they’re less likely to tip when building bubbly drinks in the glass.
If you’re sensing a citrus theme among these spritzy libations, you’re catching on quickly. (Probably because of the easy-going, low ABV nature.) Here a classic spritzer gets the citrus bite from a splash of fresh lemon juice, and just a touch more spirit from an orange-flavored liqueur. Get our Crimean Cocktail recipe.
False cognate alert: while this drink might indeed make you feel scintillating, the translation is merely “the sparkling.” Prosecco is combined with Cocchi Americano—an Italian fortified wine spiked with quinine and baking spice—for a subtly spicy aperitif that is best paired with a raised eyebrow and a nod to someone whose attention you’d like more of. (Try it with Cocchi di Torino vermouth as well for even more intrigue.) Get our Lo Scintillante recipe.
Not to be confused with the coffee bearing its name, the Americano aperitif brings the sparkling water to a Negroni rather than an espresso. A Negroni is a fine drink for many occasions, but sometimes you just need to take the gin out of the occasion for the promise of an earlier beach arrival tomorrow morning. Get our Americano recipe.
Americano, meet Shandy. It’s a meet-cute for sure, letting a gentle pilsner do the bubbly work for a little summer refresher for the more beer-inclined. Get our Americano Perfecto recipe.
They say if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, but certain broken things, like this “broken”—or sbagliato—Negroni, are nothing to be mad at. While the Americano takes the gin out of a Negroni and replaces it with sparkling water, the Sbagliato takes the gin out and ups the ante just a notch with prosecco instead. A little higher octane, but still tame enough to qualify as aperitivo. Get our Negroni Sbagliato recipe.
Related Video: How to Open a Bottle of Champagne
Header image courtesy of Chowhound.