Refreshing and low in alcohol, this favorite Italian cocktail is a must for a warm day. Here’s how to make it.

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These sweltering afternoons — 95 degrees last Friday! — call for a drink that fits all the rules for cocktailing under the sun: something fizzy, low in alcohol, a minimal three-ingredient affair. They call for an Aperol Spritz.

I’d forgotten what a great summer tipple this is until I recently visited New Orleans and Austin, Texas, where the temperature hovered around 100 degrees. I saw more patrons gulping an Aperol Spritz in those cities in 10 days then I have all year in Seattle.

It’s easy to drink and just as easy to make at home; when mixed, the ingredients (the Italian aperitif Aperol, prosecco and soda) morph into a refreshing elixir brimming with orange zest on the nose, grapefruit on the palate — with an exotic hint of rhubarb. The rooty, bitter notes dial back the sweetness.

Around town, the Aperol Spritz is often listed next to the mimosa on the brunch menu. But we should drink it the way the Italians do. Year round and in copious amounts.

In Italy, from piazzas to cobble alleys, you’ll find locals downing spritz al bitter after spritz al bitter during apertivo, their version of happy hour.

In the States, the spritz is treated more as a summer libation than a pre-dinner drink.

With our weather creeping near 90 degrees by the end of the week, it’s time to revisit the Aperol Spritz. For one, it’s usually one of the cheapest cocktails served at bars (around $8-$10 at all of Linda Derschang’s watering holes and restaurants). And it’s light enough that you can down two, maybe three, without getting tipsy.

Or serve it for your next party. No bar tools needed. You can sub a dry sparkling wine for prosecco, or use white wine and rely on club soda for the fizz. Instead of 2 ounces of Aperol, I sometimes pour an ounce each of Aperol and Campari, the latter giving it more heft.

In America, the drink is garnished with a slice of orange. Or pretend you’re in Venice, and garnish with an olive.


Aperol Spritz

3 parts prosecco

2 parts Aperol

1 splash of club soda


Orange and/or olive to garnish


Add ice to a rocks glass or wineglass, pour in prosecco, Aperol and top with a soda. Garnish with a slice of orange. Build the drink in this order to avoid the Aperol settling at the bottom.