Bubbles, bitters, and a bit of booze—these are the sacred, tried and true elements of Italy’s most iconic aperitivo cocktail, the spritz. Not to be confused with the modern-day wine spritzer, spritz cocktails date back as far as the 19th century in northern Italy, “when Austrian soldiers introduced the practice of adding a spritz (spray) of water to the region’s wines, in an effort to make them more pleasing to their Riesling-weaned palates,” write Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau in their new book Spritz: Italy's Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes ($12; amazon.com).
Come with a cocktail recipe
Your hosts likely has their hands full with planning activities, preparing meals, and keeping the house in order. Offer to take over drinks duty and whip up the delicious Diamond Spritz Fizz from Spritz: Italy's Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes ($12; amazon.com). Better yet, bring the book with you as a hostess gift, along with a bottle of Aperol or dry vermouth.
For a particularly refreshing and bright beverage, try making the Diamond Spritz Fizz, a variation of the classic Diamond Fizz created by Isaac Shumway for Tosca Café in San Francisco, Calif.: “Isaac Shumway’s spritz-ified version replaces the gin with Aperol and dry vermouth, the sugar with honey syrup and amaro, and the lemon juice with orange juice," write Baiocchi and Pariseau. "The result is a fluffy orange cloud of a cocktail that tastes something like a butter Orange Julius.” Saluti.
Diamond Sprtiz Fizz
1 ½ oz Aperol ($21; wineanthology.com)
1/4 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth ($8; winewisegreenwich.com)
1/2 oz honey syrup (recipe below)
1/4 oz Gran Classico Bitter Amaro ($33; internationalwineshop.com)
1 tsp fresh orange juice
1 egg white
2 ½ oz sparkling wine
For the Honey Syrup
1 cup honey
1/2 cup water
1. To make the honey syrup: Combine the honey and water in a saucepan over very low heat. Stir until the honey is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let sit for at least 30 minutes. Bottle and store in the refrigerator for up to one month.
2. To assemble the cocktail: Add the Aperol, lemon juice, vermouth, syrup, Gran Classico, orange juice, and egg white to a cocktail shaker. Shake without ice, and then add ice and shake very hard for 20 seconds. Strain into a collins glass over a very small amount of ice. Slowly top with the sparkling wine and add the garnish.
Reprinted with permission from Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau, copyright © 2016. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.