SPRITZ CONTROVERSY: Do you have to care?

The Aperol spritz 'is not a good drink,' according to The New York Times. Adam McDowell explains how to feel about that

Just when North America finally looked like a safe zone for Northern Italian-style aperitivo cocktails, The New York Times had to go and drop a fly into the prosecco.

One cheery beverage, at any rate — which has been orangeing up our patios for the last half-decade or so, thanks to a sustained marketing effort — has been declared “not a good drink.” Rebekah Peppler trashed the Aperol spritz as something too insipid to be taken seriously. It “tastes like Capri Sun,” she wrote earlier this month, and “not in a good way.”

Mama mia! Is the Aperol spritz cancelled? Can it really be over so soon?

My first thought was: Why would anyone want to pick on the Aperol spritz when there are so many oversweetened and just plain bad summer drinks to choose from?

I would defend the Aperol spritz for a bunch of reasons, including, off the top of my head:

  1. It’s popular, and popular drinks keep bars in business.

    Bartenders have a saying: Vodka-sodas pay the bills. Well, from May to September, so do Aperol spritzes.

  2. It’s fun, and drinking is supposed to be fun

  3. For Anglo-Saxon types, the Aperol spritz has become the gateway drug for after-work/before-dinner socializing in the Mediterranean style …

    … a social habit that is sadly lacking in this country, except in Montreal.

    Haters gonna hate

But anyway: As so often with pieces like this, it’s best to ignore the headline and see what the actual argument is. Peppler’s jeremiad, for instance, softens to subtler declarations as it goes on.

She allows that some of the Aperol spritz’s sins are easily fixed. For instance, it dilutes too quickly. Well OK, use bigger ice cubes. She also says it’s too often made “with garbage bubbles.” That’s easily fixed, too — increase your prosecco investment, or choose an alternative form of sparkling wine. (I like Foss Marai Roös Brut Spumante Rosé: It’s under $20, tastes of strawberries, and comes in a pretty bottle.)

Peppler isn’t anti-spritz, ultimately; she just wants us to realize there’s more to #spritzlife than the one very popular Aperol formula. That’s an excellent point. As she suggests, you can experiment with other formulae quite easily by trying three parts dry white or sparkling wine to two parts aperitivo bitter (if not Aperol, then Campari, Cynar, or something else in the category) to one part soda.

Here’s an easy example: Try three parts Soave/Garganega wine, two parts Campari, one part soda and garnish with an orange slice and/or a green olive. Both of the very helpful books below recommend that combination: Spritz by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau, and Aperitivo by Marisa Huff.

I suggest picking up one or both books, trying a few recipes, and seeing if there might be a spritz that’s more to your liking than the Aperol version.

And if, after that, your friends and colleagues are still blithely enjoying Aperol spritzes? Shut up and let them. Life is too short to be going around telling people their drinks are bad, and Canadian summer is even shorter.