Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Happy Hour: Aperol Spritz (A Love Song to Aperitifs)

Aperol Spritz | Noble Hostess

Aperitifs are a beautiful thing. I first discovered Campari in my early twenties, lured by events the Campari Group would host at art galleries. At these evenings, there would be a bartender crafting cocktails starring Campari's line of tart, bitter liqueur cocktails. My friends and I would enjoy trying out all the permutations - the Negroni, the Americano and, my favorite at the time, La Stella Grande. Sure, it was great to feel cultured at galleries but, if we are being honest, we were nurturing a fetish for the cocktails.

At home, my roommates' and my favorite drink became Campari mixed with orange juice, champagne and a touch of sugar to take the bitter edge off. Eventually, our tastes skewed away from the heavy, sweet drink and, unfairly, we set aperitifs to the side.

Aperol Spritz | Noble Hostess

So what is an aperitif, exactly? Specifically, it is an alcoholic drink meant to be consumed before a meal as a sort of 'liquid appetizer.' Many different types of drinks roll up under this category but, for this example, I will be focusing on my favorites - Campari and Aperol.

If you do not know what to expect from either of these liqueurs when you take your first sip, you very well may want to spit it out. The flavors are essentially a tart equivalent of a spicy habanero chili or sugary sweet Pixy Stick - that is to say, the pinnacle of its flavor profile.

Aperol Spritz | Noble Hostess

Where Campari is very strong, herbal-tasting and higher in alcohol content, Aperol (part of the Campari Group family), comes in sweeter, lower in alcohol content and milder in general. It is a great "intro to aperitifs," as it were. Both are amazing additions to cocktails and, after you inevitably fall in love with the taste, delicious to sip on their own.

There are a host of other differences more experienced palettes can discern (certainly those with better palettes than mine). These differences are brilliantly explained by the folks at Post Prohibition.

Outside of the taste, one of the most noticeable characteristics of these liqueurs is the brilliant colors they possess. Aperol has a bright, blood orange red color that adds a shock of boldness to any drink.

Aperol Spritz | Noble Hostess

You may wonder, if they are so smoothly added to cocktail recipes, why did I shun them for being so sweet? Short answer - I used to add them to already-sweet cocktails and cocktail mixers that brought out that character. Recently, I have been revisiting this love in the much more mellow Negroni or the Boulevardier (bourbon, Campari, sweet vermouth and an orange twist). Then, on one warm Summer day, my friend Christie introduced me to the Aperol Spritz.

Having just come back from her honeymoon in Italy, she was sipping a beverage that had the characteristic red coloring of this family. The Aperol Spritz, she told me, is the go-to sipping drink of Italy. Made with Aperol and chilled prosecco, this drink is refreshing on a warm day and a slow sipper. The Aperol adds a layer of flavor that makes you want to truly savor your cocktail. When served in a champagne flute or a coupe glass, with its red coloring shining through, it is undeniably romantic.

Speaking of romantic, a quick note on Campari Group marketing and branding - this is a case where advertising undeniably works on me (albeit I was already a fan). The classic, painted ads for such brands as Campari and Aperol were turned into wall hangings favorited by female twentysomethings worldwide.

Campari Ad | Aperol Spritz | Noble Hostess
1921 Campari Ad - Capiello

Campari Ad | Aperol Spritz | Noble Hostess
1920 Campari Ad - Dudovich

Aperol Ad | Aperol Spritz | Noble Hostess
1988 Aperol Ad - Mattotti

In recent years, the advertising remains brilliant and colorful, focusing on sexy photography that captures the bold colors and nature of the drink. I am a fangirl all around.

Campari Ad | Aperol Spritz | Noble Hostess
2015 Campari Calendar Featuring Eva Green - Behind-the-scenes

Back to the drink! The Aperol Spritz is SO simple that you can very easily whip up a batch to serve at a party. Picture a tray set out with champagne flutes filled with the pre-measured amount of Aperol. Guests can grab a glass and top themselves off with sparkling wine and soda water (or heck, even just sparkling wine if you want to keep it very simple). Easy elegance!

So let's learn how we make this...

Aperol Spritz | Noble Hostess
Grab your Aperol and prosecco (or other sparkling wine).

Aperol Spritz | Noble Hostess
You can buy Aperol at Bevmo, or other big box liquor stores.

Aperol Spritz | Noble Hostess
As mentioned, the classic Aperol Spritz uses prosecco. I only had Cava around - so Cava it shall be!

Aperol Spritz | Noble Hostess
Add 2 parts Aperol to your glass, then top with 3 parts prosecco or sparkling wine. Top with 1 part soda water.

Oh yes, friends. It is that easy.

If you are an aperitif newbie, leave a comment about your first experience!



3 parts prosecco (although you could use any sparkling wine - I used Cava)
2 parts Aperol
1 part soda water (sparkling water is the same thing)

Mix in the glass you are serving. Viola!

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