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The Simple Joy of an Aperol Spritz

How to DIY Italy’s favorite cocktail and where to find it in San Diego


Bencotto's Argo Spritz

Last year, I got the chance to visit Paris for a few days. The first night we were there, a friend took our group to a bar with a view of the Sacré-Coeur basilica, all lit up. It wasn’t the fancy craft cocktail spot I’d hoped for, but you couldn’t beat the view and there was a lovely drink on the menu that I’d never heard of: an Aperol Spritz.

If you need to pause to roll your eyes, go ahead. Here’s why: There’s nothing new about the Aperol Spritz. It’s a simple cocktail that’s insanely popular in Italy (and France and the U.K.), driven by a smart marketing campaign by Campari Group, which purchased the Italian aperitif Aperol in 2003. How I’d never come across an Aperol Spriz, I have no clue.

If you’re looking to ease into aperitifs, an Aperol Spritz is the place to start. It’s light and refreshing, a little sweet and a little citrus-y, with just a hint of bitterness from the Aperol. And it’s easy to make (you can find Aperol at most liquor stores for less than $25):

3 oz. prosecco
2 oz. Aperol
1 oz. soda water

Add ingredients to an ice-filled glass and stir. Strain into a rocks glass with ice and garnish with an orange slice.

For more advanced cocktail-makers, Sycamore Den’s Jesse Ross came up with a twist on an Aperol Spritz that brings in another bittersweet liqueur, Cynar, and a rich pomegranate grenadine:

1/4 oz. Aperol
3/4 oz. Cynar
3/4 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. pomegranate grenadine*

Follow the same steps as above, except add a pinch of salt and top with prosecco after adding ingredients to a rocks glass.

* To make pomegranate grenadine, combine 8 ounces pomegranate juice, 1 cup sugar, and 2 ounces of pomegranate molasses (available in Middle Eastern grocery stores, or click the link for an easy recipe). Heat slowly over the stove until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool.

Monello's Sangue Dolce

If you’d rather skip the fuss and have someone prepare you a traditional Aperol Spritz, head to Caffe Calabria in North Park—which starts serving Neapolitan pizza and traditional Italian cocktails at 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays—or Downtown’s Bice Ristorante.

Or, try a twist on the spritz at Little Italy sister restaurants Bencotto and Monello. Bencotto’s Argo Spritz is made with citron vodka, St. Germain, Aperol, and prosecco while Monello’s Sangue Dolce (“sweet blood” in Italian) combines Aperol, mango, Luxardo Bitter (an aperitif similar to Campari), Solerno blood orange liqueur, lime, and blood orange soda.

Got suggestions for a future column? Write to 2kellydavis@gmail.com.

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