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?
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)
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.
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.)
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. And my sister tells me that Limoncello Spritz was a popular item on her recent trip to Sorrento. Truth be told you can probably switch out the Aperol or Campari for any number of other liqueurs and come up with something appealing. Why not experiment and let us know what you think?
- 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)
- 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.
I’m new here and delighted to find you. I use Sirene in my spritzes, in place of Campari, and I believe that it’s from the Veneto. I also love Cynar spritzes but both Cynar and Campari are made with artificial coloring and the Sirene is made in the old-world way with pure botanicals and that’s it. I hope you can try it.
I’ll have to check it out, Anne.
When I was in Florence last Fall, I drank a lot of Negronis where it was topped with Prosecco, less the gin.
It was called a Negroni Sbagliato.
Moreover, as of late, I have been drinking a cousin of the Negroni called
a Boulevardier which substitutes rye whiskey for gin. It was invented by an American in the 1930’s. 🙂
Yes, I’m a big fan of the Negroni sbagliato, too. Haven’t quite gotten around to presenting on the blog, however. But now that you’ve reminded me….
Bastardization sounds likethe “modernization” of the classic cuisine. It seems like the “nouveau cuisine ” of the eighties.
Beautiful photos! I’m not fond of campari, and pure Aperol is too botanical for me. (No, I also am not a freak about st. germain.) But I have had aperol spritzes in my home with a big splash of orange juice and lots of prosecco, and those are good, too! Maybe not approved by Italians!
Oh, I don’t know, I’m sure many would enjoy the orange juice, too. I might take an informal poll and ask some friends for their opinion…
I know I’ve already commented, but we had Aperol Spritzes this evening, and they were lovely. We didn’t have any sparkling water so we made up the difference with more prosecco. I felt like a bad boy, but it was good. Cheers!
I’m sure it was, David. 😉
Either way, the ideal drink before a summer dinner at home or sitting in the piazza in Italy. What we would do without our Campari?
Frank, we ❤️ Campari and all drinks made with it. Our favorite is 1 part Compari, 2 parts Limoncello pour over crushed ice and topped of with 4 parts spritzer water. Cin Cin!
Sounds refreshing, Ron. Will have to try that soon!
Good to see this post return! Love this stuff. Do you know the Americano Cocktail? Equal parts of Campari, sweet vermouth, and seltzer. Wonderful stuff. Bet you’d like it.
Yes, I do. And I enjoy the Americano very much! Although you’ve reminded me I haven’t had one in a good while. I may have to indulge soon!
I love Campari and Aperol, though I came late to the latter. I didn’t know Campari used to have bugs in it either, but considering that red food colouring was made with cochineal beetles in my youth, I can’t say it bothers me that much. I’ve probably eaten more bugs driving with the windows open. 🙂
I’m sure you’re right, Linda! 😉
There’s also the alcohol free variations, such as San Benedetto Ben´s ‘Bitter Rosso‘.
Now these I know about! haha! I’m not crazy about Campari, but last time I tasted it, it must have been made with the insects! Ewwww!
It’s funny that my 19 year old daughter discovered Aperol spritzes during her travels throughout Europe earlier this year. In fact, one morning we got up and my husband was looking at his phone and declared, “I think Denisa is at Lake Como.” Whaaat? I didn’t know she was going there, and so I looked at her social media and there’s a photo of her in Bellagio, with an Aperol spritz in front of her, Lake Como in the background! Rough life! 🙂 Bummer for her is that she’s now got to wait another year before drinking legally here in the US!
Ha! But then she can always drink “illegally”… but responsibly, of course. 😉
I left a message but I don’t know if it went through. I will wait and then maybe write another comment.
Frank, you won’t believe it … I have never tried neither Campari nor Aperol, and I live in Sicily! You know more than I do!
I doubt that… but I *am* shocked that you’ve never tried these cocktails!
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.
Sorry, yes, you drank bugs… 😉
That’s exactly what I though, Claudia! Eeek!
Our book club got into Aperol Spritzers this years, I always prefer Campari . It brings back memories of my youth. Prost!
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.
Couldn’t agree more, Paula.
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.
Very nice, too. But I’m kind of shocked you don’t like Campari! A nice Italian girl like you….
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
Se il prosecco è di prima qualità sono d’accordo, Chiara. E da apprezzare in purezza.
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
Thanks, Christina! I’m a big negroni fan, too.
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!
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… 😉
I think Frank might mean sparkling mineral water.
Yes, indeed. Soda water is fine, too, of course…
I prefer adding sparkling water to spritzes by far instead of mineral water.
Try a splash of passion fruit juice too … it’s a wonderful addition!
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.
Worth a try, Marisa Franca. As you can see, it’s a hit with many of our commenters!
Campari spritz for me, please — love the stuff. And its color is gorgeous. Fun post — thanks.
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!
Thanks, David. These do seem like the perfect cocktails for a desert climate!
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.
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?
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
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
Some of those bastardizations actually sound like they might be pretty good, like the rhubarb one, maybe…?