It seems the cocktail hour has become more fluid of late given the decreased need to actually go anywhere. Begin when and how you see fit, keeping in mind that the Aperol Spritz is on the lighter side of the cocktail spectrum. This is a summer cocktail meant to be enjoyed on the veranda overlooking the Italian Riviera. If the veranda is unavailable, your local picnic table, plastic Walmart chair or kiddie pool will suffice. There are four basic ingredients to the Aperol Spritz and a surprising flexibility to their proportions:
Aperol is an Italian orange aperitif that looks like an Albuquerque sunrise when Arizona is on fire. It has a bitter orange flavor with a hint of vanilla. It can usually be found near the liqueurs in your finer liquor stores. There is no substitute.
Champagne is generally called for, but there is a wide latitude here. Prosecco, sparkling wine or champagne will all work perfectly fine, provided you stay on the drier side. I went with the local thing and chose Gruet’s Brut.
Club Soda adds a bit of fizz and evenly dilutes the drink. Most any unflavored type will do. Feel free to leave it out for a stronger drink. You can even call the club soda “Coke” if you prefer, but do not actually substitute Coke for club soda in your Aperol Spritz or you will be terribly disappointed.
Orange is the traditional garnish of the Aperol Spritz. A slice on the rim of the glass adds class, but it would not be outside the realm to squeeze a bit of orange juice in there as well as long as you don’t get carried away. Other fruits are not recommended.
Ice is a subject of debate. This a warm weather drink so you want it cold, but I say just keep your ingredients cold and leave out the ice. It just dilutes the drink as the ice melts. Is that really what you want?
A good starting point is to mix equal measures of Aperol and champagne, adding just a splash of club soda. From there you can adjust as you see fit, modifying the levels of alcohol and the bitterness. It’s hard to go wrong with the Aperol Spritz, so experiment to find the mix that suits your taste. After all, you’re the one drinking it.