While we may have grown weary of the new crop of drinks that appear to be spritzes in name only, we don’t assert that every new take on the format is sacrilege. In our view, a spritz, by definition, adheres to a few core characteristics: low ABV, bitter and bubbly. From there, we welcome the new variations. Bring on the fruit-forward twist, experimental wine choices and herbaceous modifiers, so long as we can effortlessly enjoy them at our next aperitivo hour.
Here, our favorite modern spins on the spritz, and easy ways to add intrigue to the classic.
Use a Blend of Aperitivi
Take inspiration from the winner of our blind tasting of spritzes and use a blend of liqueurs. Joe Campanale’s Doppio Spritz combines the Italian Contratto and Brooklyn-born Forthave Red Aperitivo for a recognizably bittersweet drink that forgoes the wine element altogether. Instead, the cocktail introduces tonic water to perform double duty as bittering agent and bubbly topper.
The Bodega Spritz from Denver bartender Adrienne Thomas likewise uses a blend—in this case, sweet vermouth and the cherry-forward Cerasum Aperitivo—in a Spain-inspired take. The deeper stone fruit notes of the vermouth, coupled with acidic cherry and lemon, make for a nuanced drink.
Introduce a Spirit
While the addition of full-proof spirits can tilt the format into not-quite-spritz territory, so long as the finished product is light and relatively low ABV, it’s fair game. The Clacson Spritz, with its one ounce pour of vodka, fits the bill, as an equal measure of Aperol keeps the drink in check. The addition of lemon juice and white wine syrup, as opposed to sparkling wine, meanwhile, make for easy drinking.
In his Basil Spritz, Erik Hakkinen adds only a half-ounce of gin and a half-ounce of pear liqueur to achieve the overall botanical quality of his basil-imbued spritz, which benefits from both sparkling water and sparkling wine.
Spritzes don’t immediately call minerality to mind, but a touch of salinity can anchor the aromatic cocktails. In her crowd-pleasing Tan Line Spritz, Stacey Swenson pairs a mix of Cappelletti, dry vermouth and watermelon juice with a generous pinch of salt before topping with prosecco. It’s a move that lets the flavors pop, making it brighter and more refreshing.
Chantal Tseng’s Americanah, an ode to the contemporary book of the same name, brings salinity to the spritz template to echo its literary inspiration. As the novel offers a new perspective on a familiar story, so does the drink: Tangy coconut water joins the more typical Campari and vermouth, while frizzante rosé, with its “earthy, almost beer-like quality” takes the place of prosecco. The ingredients “all give you that overall ‘blood, sweat and tears’ vibe,” says Tseng of her variation, “but in a nuanced riff of an old story.”