Inside The Aperol Spritz: Your New Favorite Summer Cocktail.
We’ve got a lot to thank Italy for — the least of which is pizza. But that wonderful boot-shaped country has more to offer than luxurious wines and supple pastas and creamy burrata. Italy has also given us the quintessential summer drink: the Aperol Spritz. And, as luck would have it, this astonishingly simple cocktail pairs perfectly with pizza.
Here’s what you need to know: Aperol is a low-proof aperitif liquor invented by the Barbieri brothers in northern Italy in 1919. The color is a brilliant fluorescent orange that stops just short of shocking, and the flavor is light and bittersweet — a pleasant mix of bright oranges, rhubarb and gentian root, plus some other closely guarded secret ingredients.
You can find the recipe for the official Aperol Spritz printed conveniently on the back of an Aperol bottle, which will run you around $20 at your local liquor store: It’s made with three ounces dry Prosecco (or whatever sparkling wine you’ve got on hand), two ounces Aperol and one ounce soda, combined in a Collins glass or goblet over ice and garnished with an orange peel or slice. It couldn’t get any easier to enjoy this perfect summer sipper.
Ian Dobyns, Il Lazzarone’s bar manager, has a few additional pointers to help you enjoy your spritz.
What’s an aperitif?
“It’s a drink you have before you eat. You can usually tell an aperitif by its red or orange color,” Dobyns says. “Usually, the sun is still up at the beginning of your meal, so you enjoy something that’s bright like the sun. A digestif is something you drink at the end of your meal, and it’s usually dark in color, like an amaro.”
What makes an Aperol Spritz work so well with pizza?
“Aperol itself is very sweet and citrus-forward, and Prosecco is bright and effervescent and dry. It’s the perfect refreshing combination, and it makes a nice balance to acidic tomato sauce and savory, cheesy, meaty toppings. It’s especially great with our white pizzas, like our Uovo pie — that’s a farm-fresh egg, mozzarella, salami, basil and extra virgin olive oil.”
Can I have a spritz with something other than Aperol?
“Yes!” exclaims Dobyns. “We have an Il Lazzarone Spritz on our menu, and it’s the same recipe — except we use Cappelletti, another aperitif, in our as opposed to Aperol. It’s very similar in taste to Aperol, but a little softer and sweeter — and unlike Aperol, which uses artificial dye, it gets its red color from a traditional processing method that involves cochineal insects. This is a natural dye that’s been around for centuries, and I love that it keeps the tradition alive.
Finish this sentence: “An Aperol Spritz is like….”
“The best wake-up call in the world. If you ever have a first-of-the-day cocktail, forget a mimosa — have an Aperol Spritz. It will bring you to life.”
Il Lazzarone, 412 Delaware Street, Kansas City. www.illazzarone.org