It's not a cocktail, it's an apéritif
Splashes of orange denote Aperitivo time. Heading home for lunch or about to order dinner, Italians stop and take a casual minute for a chat and a spritz or two. No need for a celebration, unless it's your next meal.
The humble Aperol Spritz, first concocted in Padova, now a worldwide phenomenon, is a simple mixture of Prosecco, soda and bitter. In North Italy you'll find a range of bitter options with each Italian having their personal preference. Aperol is the sweetest of the family, Aperol Select is similar in colour with a bitter edge and a hint of vanilla (popular in Venice), Campari we all know as the classy, older sister and Cynar is the dark one with a herby, defined, digestif taste, made from13 plants and herbs including the artichoke, thus also categorised as a digestif. The way you mix them is pretty much the same.
Venture out of Veneto and things begin to change.
An Aperol Spritz in Rome looks very different in Venice. Global appreciation of this Veneto drink has led to stricter rules in mixing, however, order a spritz in Naples and it will most likely be strong and short with no soda. In Rome, it'll be made with white wine, not Prosecco.
The spritz has always been intended as a casual, thirst-quenching, moreish drink, mixed a occhio by bar staff, literally: by eye. It's not a cocktail, it's an aperitivo and will set a Venetian back no more than 4 euros.
What's with the olive?
You may stumble upon a large green olive on a stick in your drink. This is normal.
While Aperitivo Time comes with nibbles like crisps, small tramezzini or crostini, these are merely meant to tide you over to your meal, the olive is a Treviso thing. Some may expertly say the saltiness balances Aperol's bittersweet, but us?
We just love the quirky touch, and a good olive.
Mix your own, the original way.
You'll need a large glass or tumbler,
soda or sparkling water,
a slice of orange
and a large green olive on a stick, if you're feeling Treviso-quirky.
Mix 3 parts Aperol to 2 parts Prosecco to 1 part soda.
Add some sunshine, a handful of friends, snacks and loud conversation - you've got yourself an Aperitivo Time... the Italian way.
e buon pranzo...