Spritz by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau, out this month from Ten Speed Press, offers a look into the history of one of Italy’s most iconic cocktails. The Spritz, best enjoyed during languorous summer evenings on a Venetian patio, is a light, delicious blend of bubbles and bitters—more of an approach to drinking than a strict recipe.
Baiocchi and Pariseau, who collaborate on the online drink magazine PUNCH, started writing Spritz out of curiosity as well as a craving for cocktails lower in alcohol content. “We like to go the distance when it comes to drinking,” Pariseau says. The Spritz felt like a natural progression, she adds, because “it nods to the tradition of wine and cocktails.
“As we explored the category a bit more,” Pariseau says, “we found that we wanted to know where this thing came from and how exactly it got to be that way. So we went to Italy to find out and discovered that the spritz is actually a style of drinking rather than a strict recipe.” The resulting book is compact (it would live nicely atop a crowded bar cart), beautifully illustrated, and filled with anecdotes and recipes for classic takes as well as more modern iterations from top bartenders. Below, the book’s rules for proper spritzing, and the recipe for the classic Venetian version.
How to Spritz
First, a spritz is always effervescent. Whether its bubble is acquired through soda water, prosecco, some other sparkling wine, or a flavored soda, the spritz would not be a spritz without buoyancy.
Second, a spritz is low in alcohol, which, for our purposes, means that it should contain no more than one ounce of strong spirits (preferably less). This is a drink that is consumed when the day is waning, and the night is young.
Third, a spritz is a pre-dinner drink, meant to be consumed in that liminal hour between work and play. It should be bitter as a means to open the stomach for a meal.
Use a glass, rocks, or wine glass. Garnish with olive and orange half-wheel.
The spritz that launched a thousand spritzes, the Venetian Spritz is made with a range of bitter liqueurs, including the ubiquitous Aperol from Padua and the more locally beloved Select (thought to be the original bitter used in the Venetian Spritz). Always garnished with a skewered olive and a slice of citrus, this style of spritz is the most widely recognized classic and the standard-bearer of spritz living across Italy.
2 oz bitter liqueur (see note)
3 to 4 oz prosecco
2 oz soda water
Build the ingredients in a rocks or wine glass, over ice, and add the garnish.
Aperol is the most widely available bitter liqueur; it is also the sweetest. If you prefer a more bracingly bitter spritz, try splitting Aperol with Campari (one to one). And if you can find them, Contratto Aperitif, Contratto Bitter, Mauro Vergano Americano, and Cappelletti Aperitivo Americano are four aperitivo bitters we find ourselves returning to over and over again in this classic formula.