How To Make A Better Aperol Spritz (And The Mistakes Everyone Makes)

Did you know there's a particular order you should pour your ingredients?
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It’s summer in half of the world, and that means one thing: half the world is asking for an Aperol Spritz. This orange-hued drink is simple ― Aperol, prosecco, soda water, an orange slice and ice ― and it’s been popular for the last few summers.

What’s its secret? We asked beverage industry folks to break it down: what we need to make the best drink, how we can avoid common spritz-making mistakes and their favorite tips and tricks.

The Aperol Spritz Is Not A New Trend

While it’s been back in the spotlight since 2016, the drink has been around much longer. “Spritz” comes from Spritzen, the name given to the result of Austro-Hungarian soldiers watering down Italian wine because they found it too strong. The nickname stuck. Anything can be a spritz! It basically means adding bubbles to a still drink, or a still drink to something bubbly.

Aperol was created by the Barbieri Brothers in 1919. It’s a bitter made primarily of gentian, rhubarb and cinchona with a bittersweet, citrusy flavor. In the ’50s, when Aperol was being marketed, all it took for the drink to take off was a television commercial with the recipe:

The Ingredients You Need

The great thing about this cocktail is that the ingredients are available everywhere. You probably don’t need much advice about oranges or club soda, but here are some thoughts on the alcohol.

Aperol comes in 25.3-ounce bottles, enough for 12 spritzes and some tasting pours. If you have a curious friend who wants to know what it tastes like, it doesn’t take much ― Aperol is intense and most people aren’t interested in more than a teeny sip. At $25 to $30 per bottle, it’s not a bad investment and your at-home spritz will be just as good as one from a restaurant (and far less expensive).

If you can’t find Aperol, you can still make an Aperol-ish Spritz. While not exactly the same, Campari is a great option. Luxardo Bitter and Contratto also work and are easy to find.

You're very unlikely to notice the difference in flavor between Aperol and Campari.
Monica Schipper via Getty Images
You're very unlikely to notice the difference in flavor between Aperol and Campari.

You’ll also need prosecco, Italy’s version of sparkling wine. It’s less expensive than Champagne, thanks to being made using a more efficient method and not needing to be aged as long.

Christina Demas, the beverage director of Maple & Ash + etta in Scottsdale, Arizona, recommends La Marca ― and at around $13 per bottle, it’s hard to disagree. If you’re making a smaller quantity, grab a pack of smaller bottles. These are a little over 6 ounces, perfect for two spritzes and a little extra.

How To Make An Aperol Spritz

“My go-to classic recipe for an Aperol Spritz is two half moon oranges, 2 ounces Aperol, 1 ounce soda water, 3 ounces prosecco, crushed ice and a fresh orange peel,” Demas said.

The suggested glass is a white wine glass, but have fun with your glassware ― just make sure it’s clear so you can enjoy the gorgeous orange hue.

Fill 3/4 of the glass with ice. Then add Aperol, soda water, prosecco and the orange garnish. That’s it!

Elliot Pascoe, the head bartender at Singapore’s 28 HongKong Street, shared a secret many don’t know: “The instructions are literally on the back of the bottle ― follow them and add an olive,” Pascoe said.

If the olive (make sure it’s green) stops you in your tracks, you didn’t read that wrong.

“Olive and orange is the traditional garnish. The brine from the olive cuts the candy sweetness of the aperitif perfectly,” Pascoe said.

Common Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

While it’s easy to master the ingredients and order, it’s still possible to make mistakes when mixing this drink. There are two mistakes the experts say are common.

The first mistake is adding the prosecco before the soda water. You should always add the soda water first. Because this drink isn’t mixed ― mixing would flatten it ― you’ll taste the fizz and flavor of prosecco, and then when the Aperol hits your palate, it’s through the soda water and prosecco, which lessens the Aperol’s bitterness.

The other mistake has to do with picking a prosecco. Make sure you use an extra dry or dry prosecco, not a brut (the driest option). You need a little sweetness to meet the bitter liqueur.

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