It's Time to Spritz! 

Leslie Pariseau is an editor at Saveur magazine, and the co-author with Talia Baiocchi, of "Spritz: Italy's Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail."

She sets the scene:

"The best place to drink a spritz is the birthplace of the spritz, which is Venice. A huge part of life is built around taking breaks: in sunlit piazzas; taking two-hour lunch breaks; taking breaks after work; taking a break in between your meals.

And it's all about leisure—sitting around and talking to the person across from your at a table, and not looking at your phone. It's just about taking your time."

Start with a red bitter

In Italy, reports Pariseau, a traditional spritz in Italy means starting with the base of a red bitter—in Venice, that's typically the Select brand. "It's got a nice raspberry color. It's essentially a low alcohol spirit that's been macerated with herbs and spices."

Pariseau usually makes her spritz with two parts red bitter to three parts prosecco. "And then you top it with a splash of soda. In the States you can get away with doing an orange slice as your garnish. But if you were in Venice you would never drink your spritz without an olive. It's all about this idea of bittersweet and savory which the Italians love."

Add bubbles

The spritz was invented in the 19th century, she says, when the Austrian Habsburgs in Austria were occupying northern Italy. "And at the time, they say, the Austrians were mixing the Italian wines with water—they would gespritz everything, a spray of water."

But it's really the invention of soda water—and soda siphons—that we have to thank for the spritz, a fizzy innovation from late 19th century. As Leslie Pariseau puts it, "when the wine gets its bubble is when the spritz comes together".

"That first of spritz of the day means that you're going to forget about everything that's happened that day, and you're just going to be. It's time to spritz!"

TERRONI, Los Angeles, CA • GLASS Collins or rocks GARNISH orange wheel

The Aperol Betty is barely more than a glorified, bittersweet Mimosa. At Terroni in Los Angeles, Aperol is mixed with fresh orange and grapefruit juices, both of which freshen up the liqueur’s bite, and then topped with prosecco for a cooler-style spritz that is appropriate morning, noon, or night.


Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake. Strain over ice into a rocks or Collins glass. Top with prosecco and garnish with an orange wheel.

“Reprinted with permission from Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau, copyright © 2016. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.”

Photography credit: Dylan + Jeni © 2016

From PRI's The World ©2016 PRI