I’ll pause while you try to internalize that one.
I had the same reaction when the idea was floated to me last week. And yet right now, four days and more than 4,000 miles after taking my first sip, it seems like one of those drinks that I should have been enjoying my entire adult life.
I spent last week in Italy on a spectacular tasting trip, and throughout my time in Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, Alto Adige, and Veneto, I found myself tucking into a treat that I’d never really paid much attention to before: The spritz.
Composed of some sort of vaguely bitter liqueur, either still or sparkling wine, and topped off with soda and a citrus-fruit garnish, it is easily among the most charming ways imaginable to transition from the afternoon to evening: The vivid color, the bubbles climbing up the sides of the glass, the almost impossibly perfect way that enjoying one at a cafe or, frankly, on your couch, captures the bella vita you’d expect in Italy–va bene!
Most of the spritzes I enjoyed there were based on Aperol, the bitter-sweet and wonderfully mellow liqueur that is, I imagine, exactly what all oranges and their peels wish to be when they grow up. It’s subtly spicy and always refreshing, and perfect with Prosecco and soda.
As for the artichoke one, it was the recommendation of Caterina Sopradassi, our phenomenal tour guide in Venice and the woman I’ll always remember for changing my drinking life that night. On her recommendation, a number of my colleagues and I tasted a Cynar spritz, made with one-third each Cynar (a bitter, herb-expressive liqueur whose defining flavor is, indeed, artichoke), white wine, and soda. It was bracing, refreshing, unexpectedly complex, and a perfect send-off on my last night in Italy.
It’ll also be a standard around my apartment for a very long time to come.