In Northern Italy, a light, effervescent drink cuts through the flat heat of summer as Italians unwind during aperitivo, the country’s take on happy hour. More a style of drink than a specific recipe, the spritz is a bitter and bubbly libation that’s low in alcohol. It has countless variations, from the Aperol spritz, dubbed by some the “national cocktail of Italy,” to the Negroni sbagliato, a buoyant cousin to the Negroni.
Leslie Pariseau and Talia Baiocchi know the spritz well. After doubling down on aperitivo across Northern Italy, the two writers released an aptly-named book on the beverage, Spritz.
So what makes a spritz the perfect summer cocktail?
“Bubbles,” Pariseau says. “Everybody wants a bubbly cocktail when it’s hot outside. Gin and tonic, Tom Collins, coolers of all stripes—some of the most quintessentially summer drinks are based on effervescent ingredients.”
Spritz is derived from the German Spritzen, meaning, “to spray.” The Italian Legend is that the spritz originated in northeastern Italy in the early nineteenth century when the region was ruled by The Hapsburgs, who would water down strong local wine with a bit of sparkling water.
Plus, spritzes can help day drinkers go the distance. “You can drink three spritzes without feeling like you might after three old-fashioneds—which is to say, ready to go to sleep,” she says. “The spritz is the ultimate day drinking cocktail.”
And we think it’s the perfect sipper for sweltering Southern summers. To get a taste of the spritz life, start with these recipes crafted by Chris Collins, bar manager at City House in Nashville.
Now let’s spritz.