Now that you've read about Italian aperitivo, I thought we'd talk about one of Italy's most popular aperitivo cocktails, the Spritz. This refreshing orange drink originated in the late 19th century in the Triveneto area when the then occupying Austrian soldiers asked bar tenders to add water to the local wine, which was more alcoholic than they were used to back home. This is likely where the name "spritz" came from, as the Austria-German verb "spritzen" means "to squirt" - the action of adding the last bit of sparkling water - or now, Prosecco (sparkling wine), to the cocktail.
It gained popularity in the early 20th century with the introduction of seltzer water from Germany, especially because finally noblewomen could "afford" to drink the low-alcoholic drink with a touch of glamor. Then, after WWII, it really took off when it became associated with the alcoholic additions of Aperol, Campari, and Select.
Now, one traveling to Italy can not go to a single town without seeing a variation of this orange-colored bitter drink during the hours of aperitivo. Give it a try - it might seem strange at first, but the bitter flavor will quickly become your preferred Italian aperitivo drink!
Want to learn to make your own spritz at home? It's easy! In a wine glass half full of ice, combine one part Aperol or other bitter of your choice, one part Prosecco or other sparkling wine, and one part sparkling water. Finish it off with a slice of orange or a couple of thick shavings of orange zest. (That way you get the delicious fresh orange oils!)