Spritz Party

Written by
Vintage Cellars
October 3, 2018
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An aperitivo is a pre-dinner drink designed to stimulate the appetite. The Italians do it well, with a number of well-known brands at the cutting edge. Think Campari Aperol and Cynar with vermouths such as Cinzano in the mix. Bar nibbles are an important part of aperitivo hour – from simple palate teasers such as olives, nuts and anchovies, to more substantial snacks (or spuntini) including frittata, bruschetta, and a variety of cured meats (salumi).

The French follow a similar path, with hero brands such as Lillet and Noilly Prat joined by Pastis, an aniseed-based apéritif popular on the Mediterranean coast. The Spanish have perfected the concept: in the south, it’s likely to be a bone-dry manzanilla or fino sherry accompanied by warmed almonds, olives and white anchovies; while Madrid and Barcelona are famed for their tapas, small snacks of almost infinite variety, which you could enjoy for three hours or more before dinner at 10pm. Across northern Spain, huge legs of jamón hanging to air-dry are the calling card of its wall-to-wall bars. Here also, in the foodie haven of San Sebastián, tapas are called pinchos or pintxos, the Basque equivalent.

Across the channel, the British go for sherry or a gin and tonic, but without the array of nibbles and snacks offered by their Continental neighbours. Tonic water has a bitter edge that sharpens the appetite in preparation for dinner. This bitterness is derived from quinine, a crystalline compound originally intended to ward off malaria in the tropical British colonies.

It’s this appetite-simulating bitterness that defines the best aperitivi, Campari being the perfect example. Campari is a polarising drink, its innate bite softened by gin and sweet vermouth in a Negroni. Campari’s stablemate, Aperol, tones down the bitterness to more universal appeal – an Aperol Spritz is perfect at any time of day.

Indeed, the concept of an aperitivo has broadened to include pre-lunch, mid-afternoon drinks, picnics, parties and any social gathering, introducing other refreshing drops to the mix. Italy’s favourite sparkling, Prosecco, now rivals Champagne as an aperitivo and party starter. These and other sparkling wines are acid-etched with a zing of citrus-fresh flavour that awakens the appetite and works well with oysters, crab sandwiches or sushi.

Ready to drink

Gone are the days of sickly sweet, readymade “pop cocktails”. With a plethora of sophisticated new tipples now available, there are plenty of ways to enjoy some refreshing alternatives to the usual wines, spirits and beers over the party season.

Whether you prefer a vibrant, full-flavoured apple cider over ice like Mr Finch’s crisp, lower-sugar offering, or an Aussie-style Sofi Spritz bursting with herbal, citrus freshness, you’ll find a drink to suit any occasion, from Friday-night drinks, to a bigger bash.
From the old-school glamour of a perfect pre-mixed Gordon’s pink gin and soda, to the zIngy fruitiness of Rekorderlig's luscious strawberry and lime cider cocktail, spring entertaining has never looked better – or easier to plan.

All you need add are some tasty snacks, a party playlist and a few of your closest friends, and you’ve got yourself an occasion!