You’ll rarely find a drink that quintessentially represents summer vacation more than the Aperol Spritz. As Daniel Warrilow, Italian Portfolio Ambassador at Campari Group, puts it, “The Aperol Spritz is truly one of the best ways to imagine and re-create an Italian getaway from the comfort of your home.” Thanks to its icon status, it’s hard to imagine using the cocktail’s base — Aperol — for anything else. The thing is, though, the classic Italian aperitivo can actually be used for so much more. And while nothing will ever replace the spritz, if you’re a hardcore fan of the formula (*raises hand*), it’s worth trying it out in some alternative Aperol cocktails as well.
Not familiar with Aperol? Chances are, you’ve at least seen it once or twice — it’s a bright orange liquid that’s often seen being sipped from a wine glass adorned with an orange. If we’re getting technical, Anthony Caporale, Director of Spirits Education at the Institute of Culinary Education, tells TZR it’s an Italian bitter liqueur produced by the Campari Group. “It's less bitter than Campari and has about half the alcohol,” he explains in an email.
As for how it tastes, Warrilow notes that it features an infusion of botanicals and citrus, making it “floral, herbaceous, and highly citrus-driven on the nose and the palate.” That’s undoubtedly what lends it so well to the Aperol Spritz recipe: The cocktail is made with equal parts Prosecco and Aperol, and finished with soda, a slice of orange, and plenty of ice, so it’s light, bright, and unfailingly refreshing.
Clearly, the spritz is a beloved concoction — it’s been around since the 1950s after all (and Aperol itself since 1919). But while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with sticking to the usual, Aperol’s qualities also make it a delicious addition (or substitution) for countless other drinks. As Caporale reiterates, one of the best ways to use it is as by replacing Campari with Aperol to lower the alcohol content or decrease the bitterness of drinks. Some of his favorite ways to do that, ahead.
If you’re looking for a pre-dinner cocktail that’s not the classic spritz, Caporale says this is a great option. Start by combining one ounce of Aperol, one ounce of gin, and one ounce of sweet vermouth in a mixing glass with ice; stir it to chill and dilute. Strain the mixture into a rocks glass over more ice, and garnish with a grapefruit peel.
After eating, Caporale recommends following up your pre-dinner Negroni with this “richer after-dinner twist.” To make it, grab a mixing glass filled halfway with ice and stir in one ounce of Aperol, one ounce of bourbon, and one ounce of sweet vermouth. Strain this into a rocks glass with ice, and add an orange peel for garnish.
Feeling the need to switch things up from your usual? Caporale says this Aperol Manhattan recipe adds “some international flair to the quintessential NYC cocktail.” Start by filling a mixing glass halfway full of ice — then stir in half an ounce of Aperol and two ounces of rye. Strain into a martini glass with fresh ice, drop in two dashes of Angostura bitters, and garnish with an orange slice.
Aperol Spritz With A Twist
If you’re craving something *slightly* different from the traditional Aperol Spritz recipe, Caporale suggests one of his go-to additions “to balance the sweetness a bit and expand the character.” To create it, mix equal parts Aperol and Prosecco in a glass full of ice. Add a splash of soda and Caporale’s twist — a splash of grappa — and garnish with a slice of orange.
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