From its unmistakeable orange colour to the most delicious hints of sparkling Italian wine, the history of Spritz is one of a cult cocktail that has been able to resist the passing of time and accommodate itself to the arrival of modernity. This cult Italian cocktail has spread across Europe and become one of the favourite aperitifs amongst young people. Drink plenty of Spritz on our trips to Italy.
The story of a cult cocktail:
Don’t believe – however modern it seems – that spritz was born yesterday or that you just discovered it yourself. It’s nothing like that. This is a classic in the world of cocktails, an unparalleled drink that, in reality, is quite old. In fact, although its exact origins aren’t very clear, it seems that it was the soldiers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of the 19th century who passed on the spritz affliction to the Italians.
The Austro-Hungarian occupation made an impression on the Italian region of Veneto (or Venetia) and the northwest region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Pay close attention because this is pure history…but with a lot of flavour! The cities of Venice and Trieste in particular succumbed to the taste of spritz, although they tweaked it by adding the exquisite hints of prosecco, the famous sparkling white wine of Italy.
Soon the drink exploded and the citizens of Padua and Treviso also started to take a keen interest in it. Today the International Bartenders Association continues to refer to this drink by its official name of Spritz Veneziano.
The soldiers weren’t so brave:
Although the Austro-Hungarian Empire was known for the bravery and ferocity of its soldiers, what’s certain is that it seems that they had quite a delicate palate and the wines in the Veneto region were too strong for them, with a high alcohol content.
To avoid heavy drinking, something that they discovered was very common, on their arrival to Italy, the soldiers decided to start watering down the wine, but with carbonated water. This is, basically, how spritz was born and in this ‘kooky’ way, the valiant Austrian soldiers reduced the alcohol content of Venetian wine and could consume it with ease.
Once they had discovered this softer drink, the German speakers came across a cult cocktail which they baptised as ‘Spritz’, which is derived from the verb Spritzen which is how the Austrians say ‘to spray’.
The Cult Cocktail:
The cocktail as such was born between the second and third decade of the 20th century, when during the International Fair of Padua it was decided to create a kind of blend. Since then, spritz has officially remained a fusion between Italian Aperol and Austro-Hungarian custom.
Its success was overwhelming and has since become a cult cocktail that has spread across other European countries. Nowadays it is served in two ways: the classic way, and another way with more bitter flavours. Since the 70s, spritz has gained popularity in every sense and even up to the present day in which it seems to be experiencing a second or third rejuvenation!
How to prepare a Spritz:
Let’s put on our barman gear and show off to our friends that we’re the best mixologist of the crew.
Here are the ingredients:
- Aperol or Campari
- Soda water
- A slice of orange
- A few olives
We’re going to use a wide glass, although every barman normally has their own methods and you can also serve it in a short glass, depending on how alcoholic you prefer it to be.
Put a slice of orange in the glass (you can also use lemon) or a few olives. Some people like to combine orange and olives – it’s simply a question of taste.
When it comes to measurements, we’ll follow the official recipe of the International Bartenders Association:
- 60 ml Prosecco
- 40 ml Aperol or Campari
- A splash of soda water
Finally we incorporate the ice and…voila! Our delicious drink is ready. Treat yourself to an afternoon among friends sharing the iconic cocktail of L’Italia!
Translated by Jessica Harper