“A good cocktail is about balancing competing and complementary flavors,” says Myles Platt, head bartender at Singers, a bar in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn. The bar—where recent events have included a tea party with pet piglets, as well as a 16 mm screening of Some Like It Hot—has also tapped into trends with a more universal appeal.
Enter the beer-based “spritz,” which, in Singers’ world, combines an ice-cold Miller High Life—the Champagne of beers—with strawberry-infused Campari. At the bar, and elsewhere, the built-in-a-bottle drink is known as the Camparty. “It’s simple, cheap, intriguing-looking and has complex flavors,” Platt says. “People love it.”
When it comes to dressing down aperitivo, Singers is not alone. Reddit—among other Internet hangouts—is populated with plenty of nods to the casual beer cocktail, like the PBR Spritz (or Spritzer, depending on your preference of verbiage). Seattle bartender Jeff Steiner is credited with the invention of the Ranye West, a meeting of Rainier Beer, Aperol, lemon juice and Angostura bitters. Some have cheekily dubbed the beer spritz—well, the NASCAR Spritz, to be specific—the “drink of summer.”
The NASCAR Spritz marries high and low cultures: Aperol and lemon in a can-of-the-people Budweiser. It’s not exactly new; the drink’s predecessor, the Spaghett, includes the same ingredients, though it arrives in a different vehicle (Miller High Life, not Bud). The barely-a-spritz beer spritzes are almost identical, though each subs in a different brand of light beer or liqueur and slaps on a snappy name. With “spritzes” on the rise, every flirtatious, frizzante drink that offers effervescence and a low ABV is taking on the label—even if the drink is just Aperol poured into your Bud.
Beer-based drinks “are inherently effervescent, typically more volume to drink and easy to make,” says Tara Hankinson, co-founder and co-CEO of Talea Beer Co. Her brewery and taproom, with outposts in Williamsburg and Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, offers beer-based delights like “beermosas” (sometimes referred to as “bromosas” elsewhere) and beer pops.
“As we phase out of a COVID mindset, people are craving nostalgia and casual comfort, while being social,” she says. Casual drinks, according to Hankinson, are particularly on trend right now, and beer cocktails—especially in spritz form, with names that don’t take themselves too seriously—fit this niche well.
“I think that people are desiring more simple drinks and classics that are executed well,” says Matt Chavez, the bar manager at Manhattan’s Ci Siamo, an Italian restaurant that opened in October 2021 and served an aperitivo-spiked radler on a recent menu. “They are wanting to drink the way bartenders in the know are drinking,” he adds. Introducing aperitivo liqueurs via the accessible beer bottle is one way to pass on that knowledge.
In fact, the beer spritz is simply a campier, more approachable version of what we liked all along, served in a vessel that requires no pretense. Or, as Platt says of Singers’ signature spritz: “The Camparty is the casual backyard hangout version of the Campari Spritz.”