The Italian Spritz: What It Is & How To Make It

Posted by Helena Hambrecht on

The Spritz is one of Italy’s most beloved mixed drinks. It features an apéritif, a bitter Italian drink that encourages hunger and whets the palate. 


Spritzes have a long history and are now making new history as they rise in popularity in the US, thanks to an increase in alcohol-conscious consumers.


It’s time to learn how the Italian Spritz came to be, why people are loving it, and some of the best apéritifs you can use to make the Spritz extra delicious. 


Apéritifs and Why They Should Be Your New Favorite Drink

Apéritifs are European classics that are rising fast in popularity in the US. Apéritifs are designed to be sipped before a meal because they can heighten your sense of taste and smell. They’re made with a wide variety of ingredients, including herbs, spices, and even more unique options like artichokes. 


The idea is that you drink an apéritif before a meal, and you’ll enjoy it so much more.


However, the apéritif is not just a pre-dinner drink. The relatively low alcohol content and fruity, herbal flavors make most varieties popular all day long. Apéritifs are generally lower on the sweetness scale, with enough other complex flavors that you won’t miss the sweetness. 


Not to mention that apéritifs are great ingredients in cocktails, like the Italian Spritz. 


The History of the Italian Spritz

The history of the Spritz goes back all the way to the 1800s. German and Austrian troops in Italy didn’t like how alcoholic Italian wines were, so they diluted them with sparkling water. 


They called this method Spritzen, which was then shortened to Spritz. 


The Spritz as an official cocktail can be traced back to the 1920s, which isn’t really surprising. The 1920s were full of alcoholic creativity, parties, and glamour. It also helps that soda water was introduced around this time, which bartenders kept nearby. 


This classic Italian cocktail didn’t get another burst of popularity until the 1990s, when it became an entire movement, thanks to the rise of prosecco. These days, Italian aperitivo hour is a must-have for many. 

 

Another version of this drink called the Aperol Spritz has since really taken over, but it’s really the Italian Spritz with Aperol as its apéritif. The generally accepted ratio for that cocktail is three parts prosecco, two parts Aperol, and one part soda water, and it’s believed to have originated in Venice. 


The Different Versions of the Italian Spritz

There are a few ways to make this delicious drink.


The original recipe is made of


  • forty percent white wine
  • thirty percent sparkling water
  • thirty percent apéritif liqueur 

From there, you can create unlimited versions. If you really start looking, you’ll find options with everything from gin to elderflower syrup. 


The Hugo (Hugo Spritz)

This cocktail was invented by a bartender in Alto Adige. It’s made of:


  • Prosecco 
  • Seltzer 
  • Sambucus (elderberry) syrup
  • Mint leaves

Cynar Spritz 

This is a rarer version of the Spritz. It’s darker in color thanks to the cynarine-based liqueur. It’s made of: 


  • Prosecco
  • Cynar
  • Soda or Seltzer water

Spritz P31 or Green Spritz

This recipe is a baby compared to the others. It was created in 2017 by Caffè Pedrocchi in Italy. It features its own apéritif P31, which goes to show you that they don’t all have to be Aperol or Campari. In one to one to one proportions, it’s made of:


  • Prosecco
  • P31 Aperitivo Green
  • Seltzer water
  • Served over ice and with a lime

Pirlo

This is a Brescian version of the Spritz, but it doesn’t use prosecco. It’s made of: 


  • White wine
  • Sparkling water
  • Apéritif bitter

How To Prepare an Italian Spritz

Depending on the recipe, the amount of each of these liquids may change. For this recipe, you’ll need:

 

  • 90 ml prosecco
  • 60 ml Aperol (but any apéritif will do)
  • A splash of soda
  • Half a slice of orange
  • Ice

Step One

Grab a wine glass.


Step Two

Put ice in your glass and fill it as much as possible without it spilling over.


Step Three

Pour in the prosecco, then the apéritif, and then the soda into the glass.


Step Four 

Add a little more ice and stir it together. Don’t stir too hard; you don’t want to flatten the carbonation. 


Step Five

This is optional, but you can add a garnish of your choice. In this recipe, it’s a half slice of orange. 


Why Is the Italian Spritz Making a Comeback in the US?

The Italian Spritz is already popular all around Europe, especially in Italy (obviously). It wasn’t popular in the US for a long time, until now. 


What’s changed?


Lighter Drinks Are on the Rise

For a long time, cocktails with less alcohol were frowned upon. However, millennials are changing that. They are driving the “sober curious” movement — there is now a gray area between drinking alcohol and being completely sober. 


Being sober curious is about drinking for the taste and the social aspects, not about getting drunk. It’s about enjoying the taste instead of chugging it down. Many people realize hangovers suck, but they don’t want to give up the taste of alcoholic drinks. This is the middle ground that they’ve been searching for. 


This new movement has brought back certain drinks that have either been forgotten or haven’t been explored thoroughly. A good example of this is the Spritz, but more importantly, apéritifs at large.  


Why Is the Italian Spritz a Better Choice?

While it still includes alcohol, the Italian Spritz is a lighter option when you’re looking for something to sip on. 


Less Alcohol Than Hard Liquor

The Italian Spritz has less alcohol than hard spirits like vodka or gin would. This means that causal sipping is within your reach. 


Lower Calorie

Compared to popular options like beer, an Italian Spritz has fewer calories (and tastes better, if you ask us). 


May Help With Digestion

While technically an apéritif is used in the recipe, certain ingredients within apéritifs can help with digestion just like a digestif. Some of the herbs are the same that are used in herbal medicine. 


Difference Between a Spritz and a Spritzer

You may hear people use the terms “spritz” and “spritzer” interchangeably, but that’s technically not quite right. 


A Spritz is a drink with at least three ingredients, one of which is an apéritif. They can be served over ice or at room temperature. 


A spritzer is specifically wine with soda water. It’s usually served in a cold, tall glass.


While the two are similar, you’d be in for a bit of a surprise if you ordered a spritzer expecting a spritz. 


Apéritifs That Make a Great Spritz

So, you’re sold on the idea of a Spritz for the next time you’re relaxing on the patio. Here are a few options that you might want to look into. 


Spiced Cherry

This apéritif features deep flavors of cherries, anise seed, and Tellicherry pepper. 


Create a Spritz by using:


  • Three ounces of Spiced Cherry
  • Two ounces of prosecco
  • A splash of sparkling water
  • A slice of lemon as a garnish

Grapefruit Jalapeño

Spicy and sweet, this apéritif is ready to surprise your senses. It features ingredients like fresh grapefruit, Makrut lime leaf, jalapeño, pink peppercorn, and dried Morita chili pepper. 


Create a Grapefruit Fizz using:


  • Three ounces of Grapefruit Jalapeño
  • 2 ounces of sparkling water
  • Optional: Serve on the rocks with a splash of grapefruit

Lemon Lavender

This apéritif is soothing and refreshing, thanks to its blend of lavender, chamomile, and lemon. Other ingredients include coriander seed, bay leaf, chrysanthemum, orange peel, and magnolia blossom oolong.



Make a Spritz out of it by following this recipe:


  • Three ounces of Lemon Lavender
  • Two ounces of prosecco
  • A splash of sparkling water
  • A slice of lemon as a garnish

Citrus Flower

This apéritif is a fruity explosion! You’ll taste lemon, orange peel, grapefruit, and chardonnay grapes. There are plenty of herbal ingredients to balance everything out.


Make a Spritz out of it by following this recipe:


  • Three ounces of Citrus Flower
  • Two ounces of prosecco
  • A splash of sparkling water
  • A slice of lemon as a garnish

Pomegranate Rosemary

This is a classic apéritif featuring fruity and herbal flavors. You’ll taste tangy pomegranate, herbal rosemary, and sweet wild juniper berries. 


Create your own Spritz with the Pomegranate Sparkler using


  • Three ounces of Pomegranate Rosemary
  • Two ounces of sparkling water
  • A sprig of rosemary as a garnish

Are You Excited To Try a Spritz?

After hearing all about the Italian Spritz and its varieties, are you ready to give one a try? It’s a great drink to have before dinner or on a warm sunny afternoon. 


The key to a good Spritz is a good apéritif, so make sure that your apéritif has some of your favorite flavors and includes only the freshest, highest-quality ingredients. 


If more than one flavor of our apéritifs seems interesting, you should try our sampler kit. It features four 200 milliliter bottles of apéritifs of your choosing. 


Sources: 


These 15 Variations On The Spritz Are Perfect For Summer | Forbes


Why you're likely going to hear more about being “sober curious” | VOX


What To Know About Italy's Other Famous Spritz | Forbes