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Cocktail Hour: Venetian Style Aperol Spritz


And now for something completely different! – a guest post by my sister-from-another-mister, Antonella Montagna. Mutual quirkiness (i.e. we were both nerds) made Anto and I fast friends when I moved to Valencia, Venezuela halfway through high school. She has remained a kindred spirit ever since, despite the fact that we’ve almost always lived far apart after high school. We both love a good feast, but while I’ve gone down the rabbit holes of cooking and wine, Anto has become quite a mixologist. As such, I’ve long been trying to coax her into writing cocktail posts for this blog, and she’s finally obliged with this take on an Aperol Spritz, a drink that definitely fills me with joy and happy memories. With cocktail hour now being a very regular ritual at our house and so many others, I can’t think of more perfect timing. 

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The Aperol Spritz has been at the center of a surprising amount of controversy in the cocktail world.
I say: it’s refreshing, it’s a weird neon color that will make you happy, it has bubbles, and it tastes of vacation. For the more practical-minded of you, it is incredibly easy to make, and Aperol lasts forever, so a bottle will go a long way. I think it's great and you should make it. But make it "Venetian Style."  
 

 The “Venetian Way”


A friend and I visited Venice in 2019, after spending several days in Florence doing incredibly cool, non-touristy things. Armed with a list of recommendations for “locals-only” restaurants, local dishes, and local wine provided by a Venetian friend of hers, we went to the city planning to “blend in” and enjoy Venice “like a local.” It quickly became apparent that Aperol Spritz, while invented in Venice, is an exclusively touristy drink. Ordering was a fashion faux pas reserved to the most uncouth of all tourists.

For lunch, we went to a restaurant where the people did not speak English. We used hand signs and broken Italian with our server after she had heard us speak Spanish and Russian to our respective families over the phone.  She believed us to be fellow Europeans. Everything was well.

My friend ordered a Venetian white wine. Our server smiled approvingly.

We were blending in. But it was my turn. And it happened. My own mouth betrayed me.

“Aperol Spritz,” I said, and my friend looked at me like I was possessed. 

“Aperol Spritz?” Said our server, obviously confused. It was like I had ordered Mickey Mouse ears outside of Florida.

“Per favore?” I said, in a desperate attempt to pretend I was an Italian hipster drinking ironic spritzes.

Our server stared at me through narrowed eyes. “Tourists?” she asked, in English. “From America?”

But it was worth it. What that server lady came back with was vacation in a glass. The Spritz was served in a tumbler and garnished with a fresh orange slice and a Caselvatrano olive. The olive, it turns out, is what makes or breaks the Spritz. The brine cuts through the sweetness of the Aperol and lets the bubbles of the Prosecco shine. The olive turns this sometimes cloying drink into a sweet-but-salty seltzer. Trust me on this – it’s the only cocktail I garnish with olives.

I call this way of serving it “Venetian Style.” To be fair, though, it should be "Venetian Tourist Style," since I have yet to meet an Italian who drinks this. (Their loss).


The result is a light, refreshing drink that’s perfect for a hot day. Perfect potato chip companion. I liked it so much that I had five in rapid succession in every cafe we stopped. It got so bad that my friend started chanting “Aperol Spritz!” very loudly every time she saw me getting ready to order one.  Every Italian server rolled their eyes at us.

And so, Aperol Spritz became the de facto drink for an Italian vacation.






cocktails, aperol, spritz
drinks, cocktails
Servings: 1
By: Antonella Montagna
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Venetian Style Aperol Spritz

Venetian Style Aperol Spritz

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 parts Aperol Spritz
  • 3 ¾ parts of Prosecco (Blanc de Blancs works well here, too)
  • Sparkling water (about 1 part)
  • One orange slice
  • One Caselvatrano olive  (See note.)
  • Ice

Instructions:

  1. Fill a whisky tumbler with ice.
  2. Pour the Aperol.
  3. Pour the Prosecco over the Aperol (do not fill the glass).
  4. Top with Sparkling or Soda Water.
  5. Garnish with the orange slice and drop in the olive. If you like it saltier, pour one or two drops of brine.
  6. Stir once, very gently, or let it mix on its own.
  7. Do not serve this drink with a straw. The Aperol is heavier than the Prosecco, so when you suck through the straw all you’ll get is Aperol.
  8. Do not shake in a cocktail shaker. You will lose the bubbles.

Notes:

This recipe calls for Castelvetrano (green) olives, but in quarantine, I made it with two Kalamata olives and, while not great, it still worked (don’t eat them though).
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Created using The Recipes Generator

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I was quite skeptical of the whole olive situation, but I have to say it really works! Surprisingly, you don’t really taste the olive, but somehow it makes everything a little less sweet. We now only drink it this way whenever we can help it, although also usually with Kalamata olives, since somehow they tend to be what we have around. I think this version is really beautifully balanced, even if the proportions here are admittedly a little tricky. I think it’s actually easier to measure out two simultaneously, and we don’t tend to lose too much of the effervescence if we pour gently. You could always add a little extra splash of Prosecco if you feel like you need more bubbles. For another take, try swapping in Campari, which is more bitter and less sweet than Aperol.

Piazza di Santa Croce, Florence, Italy at sunset.


Touristy though it might have been, Greg and I definitely drank spritzes all throughout our trip to Italy a couple of years ago, although we did not make it to Venice. Besides eating and visiting wineries, I really think my favorite thing to do on this vacation was simply to sit at a cafe on a piazza at sunset with a spritz. Therefore, to me not only does it taste like vacation, it tastes like a gorgeous sunset on vacation and it looks like one too.


Since most of the spritzes we had in Italy were served in large wine glasses, we often disobey the instructions and go with a big wine glass rather than the whisky tumbler when we make them at home. Forgive us, Anto!


 I leave you with a collection of photos of sunset spritzes we drank throughout Italy and the piazzas we drank them on, so as to virtually transport us all there.

Spritzes enjoyed in Trastrevare in Rome, ‎⁨Monforte d'Alba⁩ in⁨Piedmont⁩, ⁨ Florence, and Verona, and the pics above and below are of a sunset we enjoyed while drinking a spritz in Florence ––perhaps the prettiest sunset I managed to take pictures of, hence all the pictures. I even got to connect with an old friend, Vicky, who was living in Florence over a spritz.






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