Few drinks taste like summer the way spritz cocktails do. Always made with soda water and/or sparkling wine, most spritzes contain a bitter liqueur as well. The most common of these summer cocktails is the Aperol Spritz, an Italian favorite that originated in the 1920s. Its popularity spread all around Europe – it’s the quintessential drink for soaking up the sun on patios.
In the 1990s, Aperol updated its marketing campaign. The bright orange liqueur seemed to spell happiness, and soon the Aperol Spritz became the low-ABV cocktail of the day.
The Aperol Spritz wasn’t the first spritz to be created, though. Spritz cocktails originated in the 1800s. The Habsburg family had taken over Veneto, Italy, and they weren’t accustomed to Italian wine. They would spray water into their wine to make it more palatable, and the first spritz was born.
Today there are a myriad of spritz cocktail recipes to make at home. You don’t need to wait till summertime either. Spritzes make delightful spring cocktails, the balance of sweetness, bitterness, and fizz brightening any meal before, after, or during.
1. Aperol Spritz
The perfectly balanced Aperol Spritz hails from 1920 Venice. Usually enjoyed as an aperitivo, the bright red cocktail isn’t as sweet as it looks. The bitter Italian liqueur Aperol, sweet prosecco, and fizzy soda water make one of the best low-proof cocktails.
The less bitter cousin of the Aperol Spritz, the Hugo Spritz, swaps Aperol for elderflower liqueur, keeps the prosecco and soda water, and adds the herbaceousness of mint. It’s refreshing and effervescent, one of the perfect summer cocktails.
Although Sbagliato means mistaken in Italian, the drink doesn’t taste like an accident. This spritz is a far cry from the bracingly bitter Negroni. The Campari, sweet vermouth, and sparkling wine create a light and refreshing spring cocktail that can be enjoyed all year round.
Herbal, sweet, citrus, and sparkling, the Pimm’s Spritz is an Italian take on the English Pimm’s Cup. Using Pimm’s No. 1 gin as the bitter liqueur, it mixes with lemonade and prosecco for an effervescent cocktail with all the flavors of summer.
The Suzie Americano is a modern and lighter twist on the Americano. As a low-proof cocktail, it tastes complexly refreshing with low alcohol gentian liqueur called Suze, bianco vermouth, and club soda.
You don’t have to spend your summers on the French or Italian Riviera to enjoy this summer cocktail. The Riviera Spritz is made with Aperol, Campari, St-Germain, and soda water for a refreshing, low-ABV spritz recipe.
A riff on the Negroni Sbagliato, the White Negroni Sbagliato is a lighter alternative to its cousin. Made with low-proof Swiss liqueur Suze, bianco vermouth, and prosecco, it’s sweet, herbaceous, and fresh, making an ideal addition to your favorite spring cocktails.
Another bright orange spritz, Lillet L’Orange Spritz, is made with French apéritif wine, Lillet Blanc, blood orange Italian soda, and dry sparkling wine. It’s smooth, fruity, and just the right amount of tart, a delicious spritz cocktail recipe to add to your repertoire.