The Ultimate Aperitifs
MAXIM Australia|September 2019

Celebrating a century of stylish sipping with iconic Italians Aperol and Campari...

Jared Paul Stern

In 1919 the Barbieri brothers of Italy unveiled a curious bright orange-red concoction made with citrus oil infused with precious herbs and roots at the Padua International Fair. Called Aperol in homage to a colloquial French term for the aperitif, a century later the Aperol Spritz, made by adding prosecco and soda water to the spirit, has become an international sensation, with the New York Times reporting in 2018 that sales in the U.S. rose 48% in a single year.

Colourful, refreshing and easy to drink, with the conviviality of a champagne cocktail and a distinctly Italian flair, it’s the essence of the effortless elegance Italians call sprezzatura, in a glass. Though once a rare sight outside of Venice or the Italian Riviera, the Aperol Spritz can now be seen in the hands of stylish young things from coast to coast, leading some bars to literally keep it on tap. In Italy the spritz had long been a popular aperitivo with the exact ingredients varying by region, Aperol not always among them. The modern spritz can be traced back to 19th-century Hapsburgoccupied northern Italy “when Austrian soldiers introduced the practice of adding a spritz (spray) of water to the region’s wines, in an effort to make them more pleasing to their Riesling-weaned palates,” noted Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau in their 2016 book Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, With Recipes. “The drink went through a number of iterations, first with the inclusion of soda water at the turn of the 19th century, then the addition of the all-important bitter element (which made it both undeniably Italian and a proper cocktail) in the 1920s and early 1930s, and finally the widespread addition of prosecco in the 1990s.”

According to Vito Casoni, who spent 20 years as the marketing director for Aperol, via the book, “prosecco and ice (the latter often absent from the spritz before this) became part of the spritz equation on the beaches and in the bars around Venice” in the mid-’90s. “The success of this was immediate.”

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