Now that it is officially so hot one can fry an egg on the sidewalk, most turn to cool refreshing summer tipples.
Last year it was the frosé, a combination of frozen rosé wine with additional accoutrements blended into a slushy. The year before, it was frozen wine coolers made from various combinations of wine, usually with an added manufactured packet for flavoring.
This year, enter the spritz. For those who think spritzing is what one does to their plants or to their hair, au contraire, gentle readers. A spritz is the go-to summer drink of 2019.
The spritz is a simple drink, usually composed of only a few elements. It starts with something sparkly, like club soda, Prosecco, Champagne or another sparkling wine. (If club soda is in the mix, then still wine may be used.) Add to that a dash of liqueur and serve over ice. Top with a garnish and — voila! — you have a spritz.
At this point in time, if interested in becoming a serious spritzer, familiarize yourself with three Italian liqueurs: Amaro, Aperol and Campari. These frequently appear in recipes for a spritz.
The spritz is a desirable summer drink because it is light and refreshing and low in alcohol. In France, such a drink is referred to as an aperitif; in Italy as an aperitivo.Such drinks are meant to serve as teasers preceding the meal. Here in the South, they should definitely be served over ice.
These drinks may be served over regular ice cubes, but crushed ice is better, if one is fortunate enough to own a refrigerator that dispenses crushed ice. My back-up fridge’s crushed ice mechanism has adamantly refused to dispense crushed ice on two separate occasions. After two costly replacements for the crushed ice mechanism, it has been permanently stilled.
I now keep a bag of ice from Sonic in my freezer for such drinks. Sonic ice is a pellet-type, chewable, slow-melting ice, making it ideal for the spritz because such ice is less prone to dilute drinks.
I am told that non-alcoholic versions of the spritz are very popular with millennials. In several larger cities, bars are springing up where no alcohol is served at all. These venues are prospering because they offer a gathering place for young professionals to imbibe sans next-day hangovers.
If you choose to make a spritz using spirits, recipes generally call for low amounts of alcohol diluted by juice, sparkling water and ice. I like to mix these concoctions in a wine glass because they are just more attractive when presented.
Spritz up your summer with some of the following recipes, or invent recipes of your own — because no other cocktail lends itself to experimentation like the spritz.
If the requisite fruit-flavored liqueurs are not at hand, a tablespoon of berry jelly or citrus juice along with sparkling wine or club soda will also result in a presentable spritz.
Basic Campari Spritz
Combine 2 ounces of Campari (a red, bitter, orange-flavored liqueur) and 3 ounces of dry rosé in a glass. Top with ice and stir. Top with lemon or orange soda. Garnish with an orange slice.
For a non-alcoholic version, substitute grenadine syrup for the Campari. Look for a brand like Rose’s, generally found in your grocery store with cocktail mixers. Substitute pink lemonade for the dry rosé, and top with club soda.
Make watermelon puree by blending 3 cups seeded watermelon cubes in blender. Strain through a sieve and add ¼ cup sugar to watermelon juice.
Mix 2-3 ounces of juice with a squeeze of lime. Add ice and stir. Top with 3-4 ounces of Prosecco, or use club soda for a non-alcoholic version. Garnish with mint.
Mix 3 ounces of Prosecco with 2 ounces of limoncello, an Italian lemon-flavored liqueur. Add ice and stir. Top with club soda. Garnish with a lemon slice.
Pat Kettles writes about food, wine and spirits every other Wednesday. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.