While wandering the streets of Rome, Bologna and every other Italian town on our trip this past spring, we were struck by the gorgeous bright orange cocktails that appeared upon practically every restaurant patio table in the afternoon. For several days we lusted after this beautiful concoction, garnished with sliced orange and served over lots of chilly ice. Then finally, we stopped our cocktail lust and ordered a pair for ourselves.
Aperol is an Italian liquor that is very similar to Campari. It has a lightly bitter flavor with note of citrus, herbs and rhubarb. When combined with the bubbly lightness of prosecco or a brut champagne, it makes for a fabulously refreshing afternoon cocktail.
I love that this drink isn't overly sweet and sugary like so many cocktails often are. The classic garnish is a slice of orange, which adds an extra little punch of citrus and sweetness to the drink. However, I often opt for a slice of lemon instead of the orange. It keeps the cocktail just a touch drier and adds a bit of sourness...an interesting twist on the traditional spritz. The garnishes in these photos are lemon along with real Italian maraschino cherry...love that sweet little treat at the bottom of the glass! Nothing like a little taste of Italy on a sunshiny September afternoon.
Aperol Spritz (1 cocktail)
- 3 oz (2 shots) Aperol
- 4.5 oz (3 shots) dry champagne
- splash soda (optional)
- orange or lemon rounds
Fill a tumbler or glass with ice. Pour the aperol, champagne and soda over the ice then stir to combine. Garnish with a slice of orange or lemon and serve.