In WITF's Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

Review - Spritz: Italy's Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes

Written by Chef Donna Desfor | Jun 22, 2016 6:00 AM
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Talia Baiocchi & Leslie Pariseau
Photography by Dylan & Jeni; Illustrations by Matthew Allen

Get it: Ten Speed Press, Hardcover, 176 pages, $18.99 (Amazon from $12.77)
See it: 45 photos, with a photo of the finished cocktail about every third recipe (give or take).
Make it: 44 Spritz recipes plus recipes for syrups, infusions, reductions and one recipe for a cranberry shrub; 23 recipes for table snacks, plus variations.

After those first hot days of June, I realized my go-to winter cocktail wasn't the right fit for the beach, the deck or wherever else I found myself thirsting for the refreshing taste of summer. Luckily, Spritz was on my desk. Flipping through its pages and the simple yet tempting photos of colorful libations, I realized what was missing from my cocktail repertoire, "bubbles and brightness with a sophisticated edge." I mixed up my first spritz and said good-bye to the heavy liquors that got me through winter and dove headlong into the crisp refreshing goodness that defines a "spritz."

While this small but powerful recipe collection could also double as a primer on prosecco and aperitivo liqueurs, one thing rings true throughout the collection. There is a basic archetype on which all spritz cocktails are built and each cocktail, be it from the collection of classic, modern, or "cousins" recipes in this book, follows the formula 3:2:1. Three parts prosecco, two parts bitter liqueur, and one part soda. While the options for each part of the formula are staggering (and rather expensive if you begin to experiment), the authors persuasively suggest that the book is more a framework of drink recipes that present the evolution of the spritz. They encourage experimenting, providing the markers along the way that keep you true to the concept of a spritz.

Lest you think of "spritz" as a throwback to the 80's and the white wine spritzer of the "no pain, no gain" generation of drinkers, be assured you'll discover that a "spritz" is as much about the importance of ritual and leisure to the Italian identity as it is about a cocktail. And, one that the American craft cocktail bars have latched onto. You'll recognize spritz recipes with names like Negroni or Americano, and be amused with clever spritzes such as Byrrh It's Cold Outside, named after the Byrrh Grand Quinquina liqueur. But mostly you'll be tempted time and again to head out to the liquor store in search of another new bitter liqueur because it's called "Zwack" and is paired with something unthinkable (at least in terms of bubbles) like Miller High Life in a recipe called the Hungry Hungry Hipster.

No happy hour is complete without a bite to eat, and Spritz adds a relatively simple collection of recipes to complete your aperitivo table. I might pass on making the sardines and onions, but I have flipped through and tabbed the variations on crostini and roasted olives and nuts so many times I wonder why I haven't committed them to memory.

Spritz is on its way to becoming my go-to summer read, my at-the-ready entertaining menu, and the happiest of hours in book form. So far, none of my guests have complained.

Recipes to try from Spritz: Italy's Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes:

Classic Spritz: Venetian Spritz

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Venetian Spritz

 

GLASS rocks or wine glass • GARNISH olive and orange half-wheel

The spritz that launched a thousand spritzes, the Venetian Spritz is made with a range of bitter liqueurs, including the ubiquitous Aperol from Padua and the more locally beloved Select (thought to be the original bitter used in the Venetian Spritz). Always garnished with a skewered olive and a slice of citrus, this style of spritz is the most widely recognized classic and the standard-bearer of spritz living across Italy.

2 OUNCES BITTER LIQUEUR (SEE NOTE)

3 TO 4 OUNCES PROSECCO 

2 OUNCES SODA WATER

Build the ingredients in a rocks or wine glass, over ice, and add the garnish.

NOTE
Aperol is the most widely available bitter liqueur; it is also the sweetest. If you prefer a more bracingly bitter spritz, try splitting Aperol with Campari (1:1). And if you can find them, Contratto Aperitif, Contratto Bitter, Mauro Vergano Americano, and Cappelletti Aperitivo Americano are four aperitivo bitters we find ourselves returning to over and over again in this classic formula.

Reprinted with permission from Spritz: Italy's Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau, copyright © 2016. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC." Photography credit: Dylan + Jeni © 2016

Modern Spritz: Aperol Betty TERRONI, Los Angeles, CA  

GLASS Collins or rocks  GARNISH orange wheel

The Aperol Betty is barely more than a glorified, bittersweet Mimosa. At Terroni in Los Angeles, Aperol is mixed with fresh orange and grapefruit juices, both of which freshen up the liqueur's bite, and then topped with prosecco for a cooler-style spritz that is appropriate morning, noon, or night.

2 OUNCES APEROL

1 OUNCE FRESH ORANGE JUICE

½ OUNCE FRESH GRAPEFRUIT JUICE

3 OUNCES PROSECCO

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake. Strain over ice into a rocks or Collins glass. Top with prosecco and garnish with an orange wheel.

Reprinted with permission from Spritz: Italy's Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau, copyright © 2016. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC." Photography credit: Dylan + Jeni © 2016

"Cousins" Spritz: Rome With a View Michael McIlroy Attaboy, New York City, NY

GLASS Collins • GARNISH orange half-wheel

A riff on the Americano blueprint, the Rome with a View substitutes dry vermouth for sweet and builds a sour formula into the tall cooler, giving it a kicky vibe. Bracingly bittersweet, it nearly conjures warm late afternoons looking out over the Eternal City. Michael McIlroy's lit-minded cocktail is so slurpable and eye- catching, it's become something of a modern classic on the East Coast.

1 OUNCE CAMPARI

1 OUNCE DRY VERMOUTH

1 OUNCE FRESH LIME JUICE

¾ OUNCE SIMPLE SYRUP SODA WATER

Combine the Campari, vermouth, lime juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake until chilled. Strain over ice into a Collins glass, top with soda water, and add the garnish. Reprinted with permission from Spritz: Italy's Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau, copyright © 2016. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC." Photography credit: Dylan + Jeni © 2016

Published in Donna Marie Desfor, In witfs Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

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