As just about everyone on Earth is aware by now, an Aperol Spritz is a mix of Aperol, prosecco and soda water, garnished with half an orange wheel. It is trendy. It is timeless. It is a fantasy of Italy.
At least, that is what it was. On TikTok, the ubiquitous spritz has become less of a recipe and more of an orange-colored canvas, ripe for innovation. In other words, the Aperol Spritz has gone off the rails.
First, people started replacing the soda water with orange-flavored Poppi. The prebiotic soda has been wildly successful on the internet, comes in cute cans and may or may not do anything for your health. (According to its website, Poppi may “refine” your complexion, aid digestion and “help naturally detoxify,” among other potential benefits, though these claims haven’t been backed up by any regulatory or trade commissions or much research.)
This is not to say that Orange Poppi has no effect. It definitely does: Orange Poppi tastes like orange, which is more than you can say for soda water, which tastes only like refreshment. An Aperol Spritz is already orangey thanks to Aperol’s citrus tones and the drink’s requisite orange wedge, but what Orange Poppi “does” is make the cocktail unambiguously orange-flavored. Of course Poppi would meet Aperol on TikTok, where both brands—photogenic, marketed to girls, aspirational, leisure-adjacent—have been independent viral stars.
But TikTok is a maximalist medium. This is how we arrive at the next iteration of the cocktail: Aperol. Prosecco. Orange Poppi. And... orange sherbet. (Unlike the prebiotic soda, which is almost always called for by name, the sherbet brand is not important.) Now you have an Aperol Spritz, with the flavor and texture of a melting Creamsicle. What, a reasonable person could ask, is going on?
@kylaleelee try this you will NOT be disappointed #aperolspritz #poppi #summerdrink #summercocktail #cocktail ♬ original sound - Kyla Lee
As far as she knows, Kyla Lee, who is 24 and from New Brunswick, New Jersey, invented the drink—or at least, she hadn’t seen anybody else create it first when she posted her video, shot poolside, at the end of this past May. A fan of both Aperol and Poppi, she had seen the Aperol/Poppi videos, and was inspired. “I was like, How can I make this even better?”
She was having what she describes as “a pool day” when inspiration struck to add a scoop of sherbet to the glass, yielding what she calls a “cream soda vibe.” Among her mom and friends and aunts, it was an immediate success. “I was like, Oh my god, I need to make a TED talk about this, because it’s amazing,” she says. “It’s very refreshing, but at the same time, it tastes like a little treat.”
And isn’t that, this summer, of all summers, all that anybody wants? As proof, the creamy, effervescent treat has by now clocked several million views. It is frothier and sweeter than the classic, less serious and more summery, a cocktail that doubles as dessert. And it is defiantly girlish: candy-colored, sugary, exuberant, unapologetic in its likability. It does not require (or reward) a rigorously cultivated palate. You could go further and argue that the beverage in fact solves what TikTokers have identified as the fundamental Aperol Spritz problem, which is that, despite its deceptively easygoing image, an Aperol Spritz does traditionally taste like Aperol—or, in the words of one critic, “straight gasoline.”
But as a lightly alcoholic prebiotic ice cream soda, the Aperol Sherbet Spritz can be liked by anyone at any time, and is that so wrong? It doesn’t hurt that it also has an air of being good for you, sort of, maybe, on some level; the Poppi, as Lee jokingly puts it, adds “a touch of health.” Of course it isn’t clear if Poppi does anything—though a single splash of it almost certainly does not—but the rise of “functional beverages” has always been as much about justifying pleasure as about any actual effects. “It’s fun to pretend it makes us healthier,” she says.
This is the drink’s primary virtue: Above all else, an Aperol sherbet float is fun. “It’s giving Hot Girl Summer energy,” Lee observes, correctly. It is wellness culture, treat culture and girl culture in one beverage—not a timeless cocktail, perhaps, but a cocktail singularly suited to the moment.