Aperol Spritz: a simple drink you might be doing wrong

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Presented by Setfano Catino, Maybe Frank
Photographs by Declan Roache

2019 marks the 100 year anniversary of Aperol. Created back in 1919 in Padova, Italy, it’s also the key ingredient in the perfect aperitivo drink: the Aperol Spritz. The thing is, there is a right way and a wrong way to make this drink, as Stefano Catino of Maybe Frank says.

“It’s a very easy drink to make, you might think,” he says. “But a lot of people are screwing this drink up.”

That’s right. There’s but three ingredients in this drink — four if you count the ice — but a simple recipe, if not done right, can end in some pretty terrible drinking.

So what have you got to get right?

First: choose the right glass. Both Catino and Campari Group portfolio ambassador, Daniele Pirotta, are tired of too many that are too small, or seeing enormous jugs of somewhat orange-coloured liquid going over the bar and being passed off as an Aperol Spritz writ large.

All you need, says Catino, is a large wine glass, around 380-420ml in size, and preferably one with a stencilled plimsol line measuring out 150ml. Why? For one, the Aperol Spritz is a drink best served in a single serve — if you’re pouring from a jug there’ll be ice going everywhere and this is not what you want.

And the plimsol line will also assist in getting your proportions bang on.

“This drink is so simple,” says Catino. “It’s three parts prosecco, two parts of Aperol, and one part of soda.”

But whatever you do, do not go for less than 60ml of Aperol. That means no 45ml pour, no single shot.

“If you don’t put 60ml of Aperol, in Italy you go to jail,” Catino says.

Prosecco, too — the Italians obviously call for Italian prosecco (we’ve used Ricadonna here). And this is where the plimsol line comes in handy.

“You don’t use your jigger to measure prosecco, come on,” Catino says. “You have a stencil line at 150ml [on your glass]. You’ve put 60ml of Aperol, now you need 90ml of prosecco.”

Filling it up to the plimsol line on the glass gives you your 90ml. 

Now, it’s soda time.

“You need just a touch of soda water. It’s not a shower,” says Catino. Just a little dash’ll do, though, before we get the ice happening.

The ice is a crucial element according to Catino.

“This is where I get upset,” he says. “People put their ice in first, and what ice does, it starts to dilute already. [And] when you put prosecco onto cold ice, the gas is going to go out. It’s hard to control and it’s time-wasting.” 

If you add the ice first, you’ll end up with layers in the drink — which then requires a spoon to stir — and an overly diluted drink.

“It’s not a soup — it’s not a minestrone,” Catino says.

And there’s one last crime you want to avoid — you want to avoid floaties, the miserly two or three pieces of crappy ice floating atop the glass. If you’ve iced the glass properly, there’ll be ice cubes touching the bottom of the glass and going all the way to the top.

It’s the perfect aperitivo to share with friends, all year round. But you’ve got to make it right. Make it cold, and don’t skimp on the ice.

Print Recipe

Aperol Spritz

  1. In a large wine glass, add ingredients first and fill with plenty of ice.
  2. Garnish with an orange wedge.

And whatever you do, don’t do this

What not to do, above from left: the layered, the jug, and the floaties — avoid these at all costs!
  • THE LAYERED. No layers! If you add ice first and then add the ingredients, you’ll get layers — this just ain’t right.
  • THE JUG. The wrong glass! No, you don’t want the jug. You don’t want the fishbowl. A large wine glass is all you need.
  • THE FLOATIES. Not enough ice? What kind of two-bit, run-down, insolvent operation are you running here? Fill the glass with ice!