Spritz

Tale of Two Spritzes: Aperol Spritz and Campari Spritz

In beverage, Veneto by Frank30 Comments

Summer is coming to a close and the temperatures around here are already getting downright chilly. But it’s not too late to enjoy two iconic summertime apéritifs: the Aperol Spritz and the Campari Spritz. These refreshing cocktails are made with Prosecco mingled with the bitter liqueur and topped off with a splash of mineral water, served on the rocks, typically with a slice of orange.

These days Aperol Spritz is the more popular of the two, especially internationally. Truth to be told, I hadn’t come across the Campari Spritz until quite recently. I thought I had “invented” it when I ran out of Aperol and decided to substitute Campari instead. Campari Soda is one of my favorite summer cocktails, I figured, so why not? And it was very good indeed. In fact, I liked it even better than its more famous cousin. What a coup!

As it turns out, Campari Spritz was wasn’t my invention at all. It’s been around for a long time, even longer according to some sources than the Aperol Spritz. No matter, each is delicious in its own way. Why not try them both and decide which you enjoy more?

Ingredients

For each cocktail:

  • 3 parts prosecco
  • 2 parts Aperol or Campari
  • 1 part sparkling mineral water or soda water
  • A few cubes of ice
  • A slice of orange (or other citrus fruit)

Directions

Drop a few ice cubes into your glass.

Pour in the prosecco, then the Campari or Aperol, then top up with the mineral water.

Stir gently, nestle the orange slice among the ice cubes, and serve.

Spritz

Campari Spritz on the left, Aperol Spritz on the right.

Notes on Aperol Spritz and Campari Spritz

Campari is a world-famous bitter liqueur, perhaps the bitterest bitter around. Invented in Novara in the 19th century, it originally got its characteristic deep red color from crushed cochineal insects. (If this makes you squeamish, no worries: Campari stopped using the insects in 2006.) In summer, when you’re not using it for a Spritz, it is customary to cut it with soda and add a wedge of lemon or orange to make a refreshing Campari Soda. In cooler weather, you can enjoy Campari mixed with vermouth and soda to make an Americano; substituting the soda with a shot of gin, you’ll have what may be the most iconic Italian cocktail of all, the Negroni.

Aperol provides an alternative for those who enjoy the strong citrus taste of Campari but don’t like its severe bitterness and the alcohol content. Aperol contains only 11% alcohol. Made of bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb, and cinchona, among other ingredients, Aperol is rather less bitter than Campari, with hints of sweetness in fact. It sports a lighter color, more rust than red.

If I don’t happen to have oranges in the house, a slice of lemon or lime does just fine, as do other citrus fruits such as clementines. I’ve even seen this recipe for a few olives. (Doesn’t sound like my favorite, but if it appeals to you, go for it.)

Other Spritzes

There’s also a recipe around for the “Campari Spritzer,” which is something very different: Campari, orange juice and soda water. That’s quite similar to what the Campari company calls the Campari Orange, with some added soda.

Speaking of Spritzes, there’s also the Austrian Gespritzter: White wine topped up with some soda water or bubbly mineral water. It was the first Spritz I actually got to know, back when I was living in Vienna in the early 1990s. They say that the Austrian Gespritzter was in fact the original Spritz, invented by the Austrians in the 19th century to soften the Italian wines they found overly strong. It was only in the early 20th century that the Spritzes we know today, made with bitter liqueurs, were born.

And besides Aperol and Campari, Cynar—a modern liqueur made, believe it or not, from artichokes—also lends itself to this treatment. But, for some odd reason, “Tale of Three Spritzes” just doesn’t have the same ring…

Tale of Two Spritzes: Aperol Spritz and Campari Spritz

Tale of Two Spritzes: Aperol Spritz and Campari Spritz

Ingredients

    For each cocktail:
  • 3 parts prosecco
  • 2 parts Aperol or Campari
  • 1 part sparkling mineral water (or soda water)
  • A few cubes of ice
  • A slice of orange (or other citrus fruit)

Directions

  1. Drop a few ice cubes into your glass.
  2. Pour in the prosecco, then the Campari or Aperol, then top up with the mineral water.
  3. Stir gently, nestle the orange slice among the ice cubes, and serve.
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Comments

  1. Wait! So until 2006 – I drank bugs????? Might try this out (not big on sweet drinks but Campari is so pretty) and it is 84 degrees F here which is way too hot for mid-September. I need a drink.

  2. Our book club got into Aperol Spritzers this years, I always prefer Campari . It brings back memories of my youth. Prost!

  3. Both favorites of ours, and given the heat wave we have be experiencing let’s just say we have had our share of both. Piazza or poolside, a welcome addition to the aperitivo hour.

  4. When I first encountered aperol spritz, I would order every time I was having a drink at a bar in Italy. But the sweetness has lost its appeal, and I still haven’t taken a liking to campari. When it comes down to it, a good gin and tonic is a drink I never tire of.

  5. confesso di amare il Prosecco in purezza, tutto quello che viene aggiunto mi convince poco. Se voglio aumentare i gradi passo direttamente al Gin Tonic! Buona settimana Frank

  6. Ciao Frank Like Stefano, I’m on team Campari! Aperol spritz is good too, but depending on who makes it, can sometimes be a bit too medicinal. I tend to only make them at home, or if I’m out and I tried someone elses that doesn’t taste medicinal, then I will order one. The Negroni is my favourite! I love your photo! Ciao, Cristina

  7. Spritz away I say! Shat could be nicer or more refreshing? I gave to concur with the poster who says she doesn’t use mineral water ( sparkling of course!) or soda water. I’ve only seen it served “neat” with prosecco!

    1. Author

      Well, a splash of bubbly water does lighten the mix a bit, which means you can have another cocktail or two without getting too tipsy… 😉

  8. We like the Aperol spritz only because that is what we have on hand. Hubby and I aren’t big drinkers — we do enjoy our wine, though. In the summer the Aperol spritz is so refreshing. But to do justice to Campari, I’ll have to sample it the next time we’re out.

  9. We love both spritzes equally… they are so refreshing in the summer heat of the desert. I noted the Campari orange that Stefano mentions in his comment and as excited to have my first in Namibia this spring, and it was truly delightful!

  10. Ciao Frank,
    I agree with Stefano: Campari or nothing! And yes, my husband’s family is from the Veneto. As a matter of fact, my brother-in-law never adds the soda: he says the ice is providing enough water.

    1. Author

      He may have a point, Adrienne… Since you’re from the Veneto, perhaps you can confirm a point. I’ve heard that the Spritz can also be made with a local liqueur whose name escapes me at the moment. Have you heard of it?

  11. I have always been on the Campari spritz team – I find less cloying. Truth be told, even in Italy spritz has become really popular only in the last twenty years, before it was confined to its birth place, the Veneto region
    If one googles, one can see spritz goes back a long time and it could be of Austro Hungarian heritage, in the beginning dry white wine mixed with sparkling water
    One of the best summer drinks, but then I am a Campari fanatic, Campari orange and negroni being amongst my fav cocktails.
    here in London, in typical British fashion, they have already started the bastardization (can u say that?) of spritz: every bar tender thinks it is ok to come up with new types of spritz: with rhubarb, with rosè wine, with fruit… well… they will be punished in the next life, I am sure. stefano

    1. Ciao Stefano….You can totally say that, and I love your response so much I may have to steal it! That is what I think about everyone who says ‘paninis’! Salute, Cristina

    2. Author

      Some of those bastardizations actually sound like they might be pretty good, like the rhubarb one, maybe…?

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