I'm not a huge drinker of adventurous alcoholic beverages. I'm rather plain-jane with my ubiquitous glass of white wine while cooking dinner most days a week (unless I'm on one of my self-imposed ‘on the wagon' periods of time, which I am now). The whole Cosmo craze passed me by…I just never quite got into it. However, I do consider myself a bit of an authority, and snob, when it comes to Margaritas as my dad's recipe is by far, the best ever. But that's neither here nor there, just had to plug my dad's Margarita recipe.
The first day we arrived in Munich and sat down for dinner, I noticed this bright orange/red beverage being served and consumed, but had no idea what it was. By my fine-tuned methods of observation and deduction, I finally figured out that this drink was the Aperol Spritz and by the time we arrived in Prague, 2 weeks into our trip, I was ready to step outside of my ‘glas chardonnay, bitte' phase and confidently order ‘an aperol spritz, prosim'.
After my first Aperol Spritz, I did a little research and found out the following. It seems I am a little late to the Aperol game. Aperol, an aperitif that originated in Italy, has been around for about 100 years. It first gained popularity in Europe after WWI and is now a common summer drink throughout Europe, though the biggest purchases of Aperol are in Germany, Austria and Italy. Given that it is an aperitif, meant to stimulate appetite, it's not surprising that one of its ingredients is gentian, an herb used as an appetite stimulant.
Surprisingly, or maybe not so, gentian is also used to treat hysteria..hmmm. The other significant ingredients are bitter and sweet orange, rhubarb and a ‘secret ingredient'. The inclusion of both gentian and the bitter orange lend to the definitely bitter bite of Aperol. It is bitter, slightly sweet and refreshing. Aperol is also lower in calories and alcohol content than white wine, nothing wrong with that.
It seems that the most common way Aperol is served is in an Aperol Spritz, which is a combination of Prosecco (or other dry sparkling white wine), Aperol and Club Soda, with a slice of orange. Using a Prosecco, which is a dry sparkling wine, keeps your alcohol and sugar content low, which not only keeps the calories low, but I find it more refreshing on a hot summer day. Here is the recipe for an Aperol Spritz from the Aperol website:
Ice and a slice of orange
3 parts of Prosecco
2 parts of Aperol
1 splash of Soda