Spritz, aperitif for all generations
If you have ever been in Veneto, you have definitely heard of the spritz! For those who don't know it, the spritz is an Italian alcoholic drink, based on the Prosecco wine with the addition of a liqueur (such as Aperol, Campari, or Select) that gives it a red/orange color, and a splash of sparkling water or seltzer.
The word itself comes from the German verb “spritzen”, meaning “Splash/sparkling”, but Italians prefer to call it Spriss or Spriz, or often Sprisseto, almost as to show their love for this drink.
The Spritz is a beloved drink in the Northeast, where it has its roots. It was born during the period of the Hapsburg domination in Veneto in the 1800. It is thought that the Austrian soldiers, merchants, diplomats, and workers stationed in Veneto, finding the local wine to be too strong, would add water to it. Not happy about the thing, the locals would add liqueur to it.
Throughout the years the original recipe has been modified many times. Although there are many local variations and interpretations of this drink the common ingredients are: 40% dry white wine, 30% sparkling water or seltzer, and the remaining 30% liqueur. The unwritten rule is that the color has to be red/orange.
The spritz in Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia, and Trentino is much much more than just a drink! It is a real ritual, popular with both young and older people. It is not uncommon for people at the end of their working day to stop at a bar on their way home to meet some friends and have a few spritzes before dinner. Most bars serve these drinks with “cicchetti”, local products, such as cheeses, lunch meats, or grilled vegetables. In university towns such as Padua, for the students the spritz is a ritual, an opportunity to get together, meet other people, relax, and have some fun after a long day of classes.
So where can you taste a spritz? While practically every bar can serve spritzes, the best bars to experience this ritual are the ones in the main squares, because that's where people like to meet and get together. You can easily recognize these places because they are very crowded. The perfect time is of course right before dinner, at around 7pm!