You know that bright orange Italian bottle you see on the bar? The one with the color not found in nature? Well, it just screams summer. More sweet than bitter, Aperol is right at home in the classic Spritz, but it’s got lots of other uses behind the bar. This season, we’re seeing the Italian orange-flavored liqueur used in a frozen version of the ubiquitous Italian aperitivo, in infused ice cubes, in wine cocktails and in other recipes that channel its citrus deliciousness.
Aperol Spritz at 2 Birds 1 Stone
Summer just wouldn’t be summer without an Aperol Spritz. Heck, the recipe ratio is even printed on the back label of the bottle: 3 parts Prosecco, 2 parts Aperol and 1 part soda water. Adam Bernbach, the bar manager for Proof, Estadio, Doi Moi and 2 Birds 1 Stone, loves Aperol Spritzes. As part of his recently launched Frappé Hour, he thought it would be fun to whip up a frozen version ($9): the challenge, of course, was how to replace the effervescence that gets lost when the drink is blended. His solution was to first blend orange zest into the Aperol to provide a sharp bitterness that mirrors that of carbonation. Vodka boosts the abv and adds body, while citric acid and salt lend sharpness and a prickly sensation on the tongue that can fool you into thinking the drink has bubbles. “It’s bright, citrus-y it’s lively but with the slight Aperol bite,” he says. “And now it’s frozen.”
Aperol Ice Cubes at Fainting Goat
When does an ice cube not water down a drink that you want to savor slowly instead of throwing it back? When it’s made with booze that’s designed to add flavor to your cocktail with each passing minute. Beverage director Ian Fletcher’s Aperol ice cubes were inspired by the ice program at Chicago craft cocktail bar The Aviary. “I also really love the way ice can add a different element and ‘morph’ a drink if frozen with liquors and other flavoring elements." The trick, he says, is to add enough water so the cubes actually freeze, but not too much that you sacrifice taste. Once they are set, the Aperol ice is used in the Meztique cocktail ($16), with Rey Campero Espadin Mezcal, Luxardo grapefruit and lime.
Just a Spritz Will Do at BLT Steak
Want something light to kick off the evening that will allow you to remain level-headed the whole hot summer night? Beverage director James Nelson says the orange stuff fits the bill. He uses it in a spritz cocktail ($16), along with still rosé wine and house made lemon lime soda, served over ice and garnished with an orange twist. “The low ABV allows you to have a few and not be under the table,” he says. “Aperol is refreshing and a wonderful match for sparkling wine...you get a beautiful sweetness and delicate flavor.”
Aperol Cocktail Recipes
Of course, the folks at Aperol are quick to remind us that there is more to the orange hooch than that 3:2:1 recipe. These other Spritz riffs showcase the booze’s bittersweet orange flavor,
High Garden Spritz
Recipe created by Adele Stratton, Noble Experiment
- 2 oz. Aperol
- 1 oz. Giffard Apricot Liqueur
- ¾ oz. fresh Lemon Juice
- 2 oz. chilled Champagne
- 2 oz. club soda
- 2 turns cracked salt
- 3 Cucumber Slices, for garnish
- Add Aperol, apricot liqueur and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker. Add ice, shake until chilled, and strain over fresh ice into a large wine glass. Top with Champagne and club soda, and garnish with the cracked salt and cucumber slices.
Aperol Peach Spritz
Recipe created by Lucinda Sterling, Middle Branch
- 1 oz. Aperol
- ½ oz. peach liqueur
- ½ oz. fresh lemon Juice
- ½ oz. fresh orange juice
- Club soda
- Chilled Prosecco
- Peach slice, for garnish
- Add Aperol, peach liqueur, lemon juice and orange juice to a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice, top with Prosecco and a dash of club soda, and garnish with the peach slice.
Kelly Magyarics, DWS, is a wine, spirits and lifestyle writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website kellymagyarics.com, or on Twitter and Instagram @kmagyarics.