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1–2 July 2024
Olympia London

The evolution of the spritz: Aperol to non-alcoholic

The Spritz trend isn’t showing any signs of abating, but rather continues to evolve, with new incarnations on cocktail lists, and a growing number of brands getting in on the action.

The drink we have to thank for all of this, of course, is the Aperol Spritz. Eye catching, light and refreshing, easy to make… Alongside the rise in popularity of Italy’s aperitivo moment and the casual style of drinking associated with it, the Aperol Spritz became ubiquitous just a few years ago. According to the brand, the correct ratio is 3:2:1, prosecco to Aperol to soda water, served over ice in a large wine glass and garnished with a slice of orange.

Spritz recipes that don’t contain Aperol

Of course, Aperol isn’t the only traditional option when it comes to Spritzes in Italy, where you were just as likely to encounter options made with Campari, Cynar and more. Then there’s the Hugo Spritz, said to have been created in 2005, combining elderflower (nowadays St-Germain or something similar), prosecco, mint and soda water.

But since the rise of the Aperol Spritz around the world in recent years, both bartenders and brands have been pushing the boundaries of the Spritz, meaning there’s no shortage of options nowadays. It offers a simple yet effective blueprint for creating twists on the classic, and for showcasing various brands too, not only aperitif-style drinks but flavoured spirits and more. This is particularly prevalent during the warmer months – Spritzes are synonymous with the summer, after all.

Bringing a taste of Portugal to this Italian classic is aperitivo Per Se, which promises to provide “the light, the colour and the essence of southern Europe in one drink”. While the brand’s perfect serve is a simple 100ml over ice with orange zest, it’s also promoting how well it works in a Spritz. 

The gin spritz and other spirits

While aperitif-style products made in the image of brands like Aperol and Campari are the obvious choice for Spritzes, many are pushing the definition of the drink further, using everything from vermouths to various spirits.

Renais Spirits, for example, is championing its Emma Spritz, made with 30ml of Renais Gin, paired with 10ml of Domaine de Watson Chablis, 20ml of elderflower syrup, 20ml lemon juice, two dashes of Suze gentian liqueur and 80ml of soda water. 

When Malfy Gin teamed up with Booking Office 1869 in London to create an Amalfi inspired summer terrace, it was inevitable that there would be a Spritz on the menu. The Coastal Spritz makes use of Malfy Con Limone, alongside apple juice, lemonade and English wine Balfour Brut.

Similarly, the Spritz was front and centre when Yauatcha City teamed up with Patrón Tequila for its summer terrace recently. For the brunch menu, alongside a Crystal Paloma made with clarified lime and grapefruit juice, was a Mandarin Spritz. Bringing Aperol back into the fold, this was combined with Patrón Reposado mixed with Aperol, mandarin and tonic water, served with a Szechuan salt edge.

Meanwhile, the new menu at Donovan Bar at Brown's Hotel in London features a Spritz-style serve entitled (In)Decision, which incorporates both pisco and Campari, alongside rose, H Theoria Cuir Lointain Liqueur and a strawberry cordial, topped with London Essence soda water.

The Botanist Bristol’s crowd-favourite Sparkling Hibiscus Spritz is made with 25ml of Tanqueray Gin, a dash of Hibiscus syrup and 100ml Fever-Tree Raspberry & Orange Blossom Soda, topped with 50ml of sparkling wine, all served over lots of ice in a large wine glass, garnished with citrus.

For more ideas, there’s Master of Malt’s Spritz with a Twist page, incorporating everything from Aker English Aperitif to Amaro di Angostura, via Lillet Rosé and Jaffa Cake Gin. There’s a non-alc option too, using a base of Tanqueray 0.0% Sevilla. 

Non-alcoholic spritzes

Already inherently low-ABV, Spritzes lend themselves well to non-alcoholic versions too, and the rise in zero-ABV aperitifs in recent years has only helped to broaden this.

Martini recently conducted research into changing drinking habits in the UK and the US, reporting that 49% of the people surveyed were curious about cocktails with non-alcoholic spirits, and adding that the Spritz continued to dominate cocktail menus.

Commenting on the research, Bacardi No & Low Consultant, and founder of La Maison Wellness, Camille Vidal said: 

The spritz has been so popular because it’s an inclusive drink - it’s super Instagrammable and you don’t feel like you’re missing out on having a nice cocktail. Switching to moderation is all about keeping the rituals of drinking but updating the recipe so you’re taking the time to enjoy a beautifully made drink on a summer evening, but it doesn’t have to be high in alcohol.

One brand that’s flying the flag for zero-ABV Spritzes is non-alcoholic aperitif Everleaf, which recently held the second incarnation of its nationwide Spritz competition. In a final held at Imbibe Live this year, Alessandro Todini from Seed Library in London took top spot, with an inspired combination of Everleaf Marine, a dashi and olive cordial and Mediterranean tonic, entitled Super Olive.

Runners-up in the Everleaf comp were Brett Oliver Yates from Manchester’s Speak in Code and Becca MacDonald from Bramble Bar in Edinburgh. Yates’ drink, Meadowsweet, was made with Everleaf Forest, maple Verjus and a birch honey tonic, while McDonald’s Val Gardena combined Everleaf Mountain, nettle and redcurrant cordial, lemon balm and soda.

Non-alc aperitifs also offer an opportunity to create lower-ABV versions of the Spritz, such as the Royal Ruby Spritz from Wavelength in Cornwall. This combines 35ml of their non-alc Ruby with 25ml of London dry gin, 100ml of sparkling wine, 10ml sugar syrup, muddled strawberries and lime juice. For a non-alc alternative, the brand’s Ruby Spritz is a simple combination of Ruby Wavelength with tonic water.

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