Skip to main content

Love an Aperol Spritz? Try out these spritz alternatives

Love an Aperol Spritz? Try out these spritz alternatives for a sparkling summer

cocktail
Aperol spritz cocktail Goskova Tatiana / Shutterstock

The Aperol Spritz is a ubiquitous cocktail over the summer months. With its combination of sweet and bitter and a bright, distinctive color, it has something for everyone — so it’s no surprise it’s taken the world by storm over the last few years. But while this drink is a great choice for a summer sipper, maybe you’re looking to expand into something a bit different. In that case, it’s time to explore the wider world of spritzes.

A spritz is just a mixed drink made with sparkling wine, a dash of water, and any kind of liqueur or amaro to add complexity and interest. That template allows for a lot of experimentation and adjustment to your own tastes, so you should feel free to try out making spritzes with whatever you happen to have to hand. One of my favorite unexpected variations is to use ginja, a Portuguese sour cherry liqueur typically drunk as a shot in place of the Aperol. Its sweet and sour flavors are the ideal substitution for the thickness and sweetness of Aperol.

But if you’d rather have some guidelines for where to start, then there are a few classic spritz recipes that you can try out at home.

Alternative spritz ideas

A more bitter and intense alternative that’s popular in Italy is a Campari spritz, which simply swaps one amaro for another. The Campari may make this too bitter for some, but if you enjoy strong bitter flavors then you’ll love this version — and it is a lovely deep red color which looks great in the glass.

For those with a sweeter tooth who are looking for a more floral take on the spritz, then the Hugo spritz is the way to go. This uses elderflower liqueur like St. Germain in place of the Aperol. For my palate, it’s a bit sweet so I dial down the ratio of St. Germain to sparkling wine, but it’s great if you want something less bitter than the Aperol.

Finally, another Italian favorite and a delicious summer treat is a limonchello spritz. It has sweetness from limonchello rather than Aperol, but also a lovely sour note which mixes surprisingly well with sparkling wine.

Georgina Torbet
Georgina Torbet is a cocktail enthusiast based in Berlin, with an ever-growing gin collection and a love for trying out new…
What is a gruit, and where can you find one?
Gruit, the beer made without hops that you need to try
Beer snifter chalice glass

Most beers you know and love today have four primary ingredients: water, barley, hops, and yeast. That’s largely due to the centuries-old German beer purity law, or reinheitsgebot, which demanded that beer be made exclusively using these ingredients and set the standard for today’s brews. 
But beer is an ancient beverage — historians believe its story stretches back to 5th millennium BC in Iran and went on to be enjoyed by the likes of Egyptian pharaohs and the Greek philosophers. However, if Socrates or Tutankhamun ever enjoyed a pint in their days, the beer was likely missing one of those four critical ingredients: the hop.
In today’s hop-hungry climate of India pale ales (and hazy IPAs, New England IPAs, as well as milkshake IPAs, and others), it seems impossible that beer could exist without hops. The fact is that many other natural ingredients can serve as substitutes for the bittering, aromatic, and flavoring characteristics of hops. Today, if a beer relies on other herbs to fill the "hops" role, the beverage is classified as a gruit.

Gruit is the German word for herb. Instead of depending on hops, these brews use exotic additives like bog myrtle, horehound, elderflowers, and yarrow to offset the sweetness of the malts and create a more complex beverage.
Thanks to the creativity of modern breweries, you don’t have to travel back to the Middle Ages to find a gruit (though if you can, please let us in on your time travel technology). You can try them right now, but you will have to do some detective work.
“Authentic” gruits can be tough to find in the mainstream marketplace. That’s because some laws require hops to be present for a product to be sold as beer. Not having the “beer” title would limit distribution and sales channels for some breweries.  To illustrate how rare gruits are in the current marketplace, there are currently 32,576 American IPAs listed on the Beer Advocate database and only 380 gruits.
But don’t despair — this list will help you get started on the path toward discovering modern versions of the ancient ale. Start your gruit journey here:

Read more
A quick guide to French wine crus
We'll help you understand French wine labels
Person grabbing a wine bottle

A French wine label can seem, well, foreign. As a whole, they tend to be peppered with traits and terminology that are not immediately familiar, sometimes cloaking the contents of the bottle to those who don’t speak the language or understand the hierarchies.
One word you’re likely to encounter a lot — whether you’re hunting for a fine Burgundy, a good sauternes, or a celebratory Champagne — is "cru." Meaning "growth," the word is a viticultural one, pointing to the vineyard where the fruit is grown. Over the years in France, vineyards have been rated based on their ability to create wine. It’s subjective and, like a lot of things in wine, probably due for some reform, but it’s worth understanding if you’re looking to better know what you’re drinking.
Like water rights or celebrity, the cru system is certainly antiquated, based largely on family names and maps or lists drawn up a long time ago. To France’s credit, growers are finally waking up to the many moving parts at play, adjusting dusty old blending rules and considering different cru designations based on an abruptly changing climate. But there’s far more work to do here. With the imbibing masses increasingly focused on transparency over critical acclaim and prestige, it’ll be interesting to see what comes of it.
In the meantime, here are some basics to get you in and out of the bottle shop a little more confidently, whether it’s an online find or a brick-and-mortar pickup. In addition to being something of a rating hierarchy, the cru system stresses terroir. Bottles designated a certain way should, in theory, demonstrate some type of typicity associated with a specific place. Again, it’s often more subjective than scientific, but there are certainly styles and flavors attached to certain French vineyards (and beyond).
Generally, if you see cru on the label, it’s pretty good stuff. The two most esteemed wine crus are Premiere and Grand. How the two terms are used is a little confusing. In Bordeaux, Premier (or premier grand cru classé) is the best of the best, the topmost of five formal designations (refresh your French vocabulary by looking up how to count from one to five). Unlike Burgundy, where the focus is on the site, the cru designation here is more focused on the production facility itself, or the chateau. 
Elsewhere, as in Sauternes or Burgundy, Grand wears the gold medal while Premiere refers to the silver medal bearer. Burgundy classifies all of its vineyards this way, with lesser-revered sites and labels sporting the “Villages” (bronze medal) and “Bourgogne” markers (honorary mention). Many other regions in France and beyond work under very similar labeling guidelines. Famous spots like Alsace and Champagne place their work on similar podiums.

What to look for

Read more
These are the best dry white wines for cooking – add these to your kitchen toolbox
Dry white wines can add complementary flavors to any number of dishes
Young man eating salmon fillet with gratinated potatoes, leek and spinach in the restaurant with glass of white wine

Cooking wines can be a contentious subject among chefs and home cooks. Everybody seems to have an opinion, and those opinions don't often match. Fear not, as we've logged a lot of hours cooking with and sipping on quality white wine and have some reliable takeaways.

One mantra we can agree with is this: Never cook with a wine you wouldn't otherwise drink. If it's not really palatable, it could alter your dish in unsavory ways. About the only exception to this rule is with older red wine, which you can use like vinegar when making red sauces, stews, and that sort of thing. But when it comes to white wine, cook with what you like to sip.

Read more