Recipes: How to Make the Aperol Spritz, Hero of Italian Happy Hour | Wine Enthusiast
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Aperol Spritz cocktail with an orange and white straw

How to Make the Aperol Spritz, Hero of Italian Happy Hour

When it comes to cocktail hour, no country does it better than Italy. Famously known as aperitif hour, this romantic tradition takes place after work, but before dinner. During this hour of leisure, thirsty people lounge on patios with drinks in hand. Among the most popular beverage? The Aperol Spritz.  

Here’s everything to know about this simple yet beloved cocktail.  

What Is an Aperol Spritz? 

The Aperol Spritz is a refreshing aperitif that incorporates Aperol liqueur, Prosecco and club soda. Aperitif, in case you’re not familiar, is a category of drinks commonly enjoyed before a meal, as they are believed to help stimulate one’s appetite. 

The star ingredient is Aperol, a brand of orange-hued liqueur with a bittersweet, herbal taste and made with ingredients such as orange peels and various herbs and roots. (Though similar to Campari, Aperol is sweeter and less bitter.) It also has a relatively low alcohol content of 11%, which makes it the perfect base ingredient for sessionable drinks. While any sparkling wine can technically be used in an Aperol spritz, the traditional version incorporates Prosecco, the Italian sparkling from the Veneto region. 

The recipe calls for equal parts Aperol and Prosecco. However, depending on your taste, the ratio can be tweaked. It’s served in either a large wine glass or a stemless one.  

Where Did the Aperol Spritz Come From? 

The Aperol brand was created in 1919 by Luigi and Silvio Barbieri, in Padua, a city in Northern Italy’s Veneto region. The name comes from “apero,” which is French slang for apéritif. The Campari Group later bought Aperol in 2003. 

According to the Oxford Companion to Spirits & Cocktails, for decades after Aperol’s debut, it was historically consumed with soda and a slice of orange, often in a glass rimmed with sugar. Then, at some point in the late 20th century, “beach bars on the Venetian Riviera began using Aperol in their Venetian spritzes and serving the drink with ice in a large wine glass,” writes contributor Leo Leuci.  

Yet despite the drink’s ubiquity in Italy, it didn’t gain popularity in the U.S. until the 2000s, a result of several successful marketing campaigns. Today, it’s a staple at seemingly every cocktail bar and restaurant that serves brunch.  

How to Make an Aperol Spritz 


  • 3 ounces (1 part) Aperol
  • 3 ounces (1 part) dry Prosecco
  • 1 ounce club soda
  • Orange slice, for garnish


Step 1

Add ice to a large wine glass.

Step 2

Pour in the Aperol and Prosecco.

Step 3

Top with club soda and garnish with an orange slice.


What Is Aperol Made Of? 

With a vibrant orange hue, Aperol is an Italian bitter liqueur infused with gentian rhubarb, orange peel, cinchona and other herbs. The ingredients are macerated in alcohol to extract their flavors and then blended. However, the full recipe is, of course, a closely guarded secret. 

What Does an Aperol Spritz Taste Like? 

Light and refreshing, this cocktail tastes like a zesty, orange-flavored drink with subtle herbal flavors. The Prosecco is dry, which balances the sweetness and herbaceous notes from the Aperol.  

Are There Other Variations of an Aperol Spritz?  

There are plenty of ways to put a twist on the classic Aperol Spritz. Use a rosé Prosecco and it’s called a rosé Aperol spritz. You can also substitute the Aperol for Campari, another Italian bitter, and create a Campari spritz. Or try combining Lillet rosé and club soda to make a Lillet spritz.  

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