If you’re looking for a twist on the ubiquitous Italian spritz cocktail, look no further!

As we’ve traveled over the years, we’ve witnessed the rise in popularity of the Aperol spritz, a sweet, bubbly refreshing orange cocktail that’s PERFECT on a hot sunny day. It’s made with a bright orange apéritif called Aperol – but did you know that spritzes can be made with other apéritifs (or amaros – bitter herbal digestifs) for slightly different flavors? It’s time to explore the full range of the Italian spritz cocktail.

Origin of the Italian Spritz Cocktail

The Italian spritz originated in the 1800s in Italy’s Veneto region, near Venice, which is also the birthplace of prosecco. “Spritz” is the German word for “splash,” and the origin of the drink is attributed to Austrians who would dilute Italian wines with a touch of soda water to make them lighter before dinner. Eventually Italians would add amaros to prosecco and the modern spritz was born. Today the spritz is enjoyed as a lighter alternative to a cocktail to prepare your palate for dinner – or as refreshing libation on a sunny afternoon.

The Big Four Italian Spritz Cocktails

  • Aperol – Introduced in 1919, Aperol is an Italian bitter apéritif made of made of gentian, cinchona, rhubarb, and other ingredients. With its gorgeous bright orange color, how could it NOT become the most beloved summer drink?
  • Campari – Campari tastes similar to Aperol but with more bitterness and twice the alcohol content.
  • Select – Born in Venice and made with 30 botanicals including juniper and rhubarb, Select offers a subtle complexity you won’t find with Aperol or Campari.
  • Cynar – For something with less sweetness than Aperol, check out Cynar (my personal favorite). Cynar has an artichoke base (hear me out) but that combined with other herbs and botanicals gives it a darker color, similar to cola, plus some bitterness with notes of caramel and toffee. Sophisticated!

And Don’t Neglect These

Spritzes can be made with lots of different bitters, so play around. Try one with Averna, a sweeter amaro from Sicily… or Meletti, dark and sweet, similar to root beer.

How to Make an Italian Spritz Cocktail

A perfect spritz cocktail consists of five ingredients in the classic 3-2-1 ratio, poured and stirred:

  • Ice. Start with 4 ice cubes or some crushed ice.
  • Apéritif. 3 parts
  • Prosecco. 2 parts
  • Club Soda. 1 part. Add just a splash!
  • Garnish. An orange slice, lemon peel or whatever you like!
Italian spritz cocktails - Aperol, Select, Campari and Cynar
Italian spritz cocktails at a bar in Venice

Have a Taste Test

Next time you find yourself at an Italian restaurant or bar (or a bar anywhere that offers a variety of Italian apéritifs or digestifs), order one of each with your friends and take turns sampling each one. Note the subtle differences. You just might find that Aperol isn’t your favorite after all!

Take this Food Tour in Venice

We received our introduction to these different Italian spritz cocktails while on a food tour in Venice. The local guide explained the differences among the apéritifs, then let us order the ones we wanted to try.

➡️ Venice Walking Food Tour

Summary: Try these Italian Spritz Cocktails Today

Sure, the Aperol Spritz is awesome, but you owe it to yourself to try other Italian spritz cocktails made with different liqueurs. Then when you’re out on the town, you can change it up to suit your mood while impressing all your friends with your sophistication.

Recent Posts