The origin of the “Spritz” a common drink in Trieste and the rest of the Triveneto (region comprised of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto Adige and the Veneto in Northern Italy), dates back from the time of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.
The soldiers of the Austrian Empire posted in what used to be called the “Republica Serenissima”, “Repubblica di Venezia” or “Repubblica di San Marco” a Pre-Italy state with Venice as its capital, which later became part of the Lombardo-Veneto Reign from 1815 until 1866, were accustomed to drinking a beer with a lower alcohol grade than the wines of the region. To lower the high alcohol content, local wine would then be mixed with club soda (seltz) or our readily available “acqua frizzante” (sparkling mineral water) at a usual rate of 1:3, 1 part of wine per three parts of sparkling mineral water; from there the origin of the name for the preferred North-Eastern Italian drink “spritz” which derives from the Austrian/German verb spritzen meaning to splash, spray, spurt or squirt was born.
In Trieste, Italy we have preserved this tradition of drinking spritz, especially during the hot summer days ever since. In other parts of the Italian North-East all the way to Milan it’s still known and ordered as “vin sprizzato” (spritzed wine).
Around 1920-1930 in Venice with the creation of the Aperol – an Italian aperitif – introduced at the 1st Fiera Campionaria di Padova in 1919, a new cocktail with a similar name was born, the “Spritz con Aperol”, in an attempt to popularize the new drink and increase its sales.
The new cocktail composed of 3 parts of Prosecco (a sparkling wine produced in Prosecco near Trieste), 2 parts of Aperol (can be substituted for Campari) and 1 part of Sparkling Mineral Water served with a slice of orange an a couple of ice cubes, was registered with the International Bartenders Association (IBA) in 2011 and given the official name “Spritz Veneziano”.
In the 70’s and 80’s during the hot summer months at the pool or the beach, mom just had to say the famous Italian slogan of the 50’s “Ah, Aperol!” as the signal for dad to get her favorite drink ever.
Because Spritz and Aperol Spritz are refreshing and the second should be prepared cold, these drinks are the preferred summer drinks in Northeast Italy. While the original Spritz is ok to have with your favorite meal (white wines pair best with fish), Aperol Spritz is not a cocktail to have with your summer dinner party or barbecue at all! Trying to introduce this quite unique drink with a meal will turn into a disaster.
Aperol Spritz or as it’s known with its official cocktail name Spritz Veneziano is a social aperitif to have before lunch or dinner to stimulate the appetite, never to be combined with any meal as the bitter flavor of the Aperol isn’t suitable with any food. We usually have a date with friends and family in Piazza Unità in Trieste at one of the bar, on a late summer afternoon to watch the sunset over the Adriatic Sea and catch up with the latest events, over Spritz con Aperol before heading for dinner at our favorite restaurant Spiller.
Whether you prefer the original Spritz or the newest version Spritz Veneziano, don’t forget to drink responsibly.