A traditional Italian aperitivo drink, the history of the spritz dates back to the 19th century custom of splashing a little water into wine. The practice evolved over time to include bitters and soda water, but its ubiquity on this side of the Atlantic, and that of its modern, low-alcohol, bubbly brethren, has reached new heights in recent years. While the Aperol Spritz and the Negroni Sbagliato remain the archetypal examples of the form, today’s renditions reach far beyond the red-and-bitter model.
From tiki-inspired twists to pamplemousse-laced recipes built directly in a can of LaCroix, here are 10 essential modern spritzes.
Like the many maligned Mai Tai recipes floating about in the cocktail ether, the originator of this tiki classic has been muddied, with accounts naming Don the Beachcomber and others fingering his rival, Victor “Trader Vic” Bergeron. Either way, Vic’s version is the one that lingers as the canonical formula. Austere compared to many kitchen sink-style tiki drinks, the Mai Tai pairs lime, almond syrup (orgeat), dry Curaçao and, often, two styles of rum—Jamaican and Martinique. Martin Cate’s spritz-ified version pares down the rum content in lieu of a Champagne topper, a nod to Trader Vic’s French heritage.
Always a welcome term, “rosé all day” can only mean one thing: Good times. This refreshing spritz cocktail is a staple at the Broken Shaker, a Miami Beach bar that resembles a Santeria alter covered in a jungle of herbs and candles. Its bright, high-acid base provides the slender backbone for a layer of tangy tropical fruit shrub, a topper of sparkling wine and aromatic mint-lemon garnish.
A hybrid between a Daiquiri and a spritz, Alex Day’s Pins & Needles combines aromatic rhum agricole with sweet, flowery Lillet Rosé and old-school sweetener pineapple gum. (We recommend using Small Hand Foods‘ version.) Lime and Angostura bitters balance the drink with a tangy, bitter bite before getting topped with the requisite spritz of bubbly soda water.
Damiana is an herbal Mexican liqueur made from a shrub that is said to be reminiscent of chamomile. At Bobby Heugel‘s Pastry War in Houston, it’s mixed with floral, sweet Cocchi Americano and dry Champagne, elongating Damiana’s herbaceous notes. It’s all heightened by a topper of Angostura bitters. Thrown in a glass over ice and garnished with mint and blackberries, it’s a drink made for hot Texas evenings.
The Blood Moon is just one example of Joe Campanale’s ode to aperitivo. A combination of amaro, tonic and lemon, it ticks all the right boxes: bitter, low-alcohol and most importantly, transportive.
Natasha David’s Shower Spritz combines the heavy-hitter Pamplemousse flavor of LaCroix with measures of Aperol and St-Germain, then tops it all with mint, lime, grapefruit, an orchid and a generous sprinkling of edible glitter.
Tom Macy’s riff on the Negroni Sbagliato swaps out Campari and sweet vermouth for an aromatic blend of Cappelletti and Cocchi Americano Rosa. The rosé Champagne topper adds a light, playful effervescence to round it out.
The base ingredient in William Elliott’s complex spritz is the idiosyncratic saffron-infused Strega, a brilliant-yellow bitter liqueur whose name means “witch” in Italian. Named for the memory of Giuseppe Alberti, who founded the Strega distillery in 1860 in Benevento, Italy, this herbal, savory spritz boldly carries his name forth.
Made with a list of ingredients meant to channel the cool, glacial ferocity of the Alps, this spritz has a base of Braulio, an Italian alpine bitter that tastes of menthol and bittersweet pine. The acidic riesling, homemade grape syrup, and aromatic rosemary garnish add a layered complexity that continues to linger after the first sip.
This crisp, white wine spritz from Lauren Corriveau gets a floral hit from St-Germain, while Salers and fennel liqueur counter with vegetal notes, all finished with a cooling hit of eucalyptus extract.