Italy TravelSpritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail

Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail
Published on Tuesday, March 22, 2016 by

spritz-bookA new book from authors and culinary writers Leslie Pariseau and Talia Baiocchi, titled Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes, aims to highlight the fizzy side of Italian bar culture by exploring the history of and creative variations on the spritz cocktail.

“The spritz’s popularity is symbolic of a pendulum shift away from the how-much-booze-can-you-fit-in-a-glass approach and toward more of a lo-fi, playful approach,” Baiocchi told “It’s a cocktail that’s not meant to be taken too seriously, and that’s the beauty of it.”

For the book, Baiocchi and Pariseau visited the “Spritz Trail” in northern Italy — which crosses Trieste, Venice, Trento, Padua, Brescia, Milan  and Turin — to research the culture and flavors behind the spritz cocktail. The drink is a mix of Prosecco and a splash of bitter liqueur, such as the classic and ubiquitous Campari; Select, a Venetian bitter with flavors of ginger, vanilla, and cardamom; Aperol, which is more sweet than bitter, with orange and rhubarb flavors; or Cynar, a combination of artichokes, herbs, and roots.

Invented in northern Italy in the 1800s while the region was under Habsburg rule, the drink was a way for German soldiers to dilute the stronger Italian wines they weren’t accustomed to. It is because of the Italian aperitivo tradition that the spritz has stayed in vogue, as professionals leisurely sip their low-proof cocktails, while of course munching on cicchetti, between work and dinner.

“In Italy, this is less a cocktail and more a symbol of dedication to the idea that leisure is important to Italian culture,” said Baiocchi. “Spritz is a verb, a mantra, and a state of being.”

Spritz includes new and traditional recipes for 50 signature spritz cocktails from each city the authors visited and from bartenders outside of Italy, as well as cicchetti recipes. The book, from Ten Speed Press, is available now in bookstores and on Amazon for $11.


By Kathy McCabe

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