A harmonious fusion of bitter, sweet, and bubbly, the Venetian Spritz was “perfected generations ago,” points out Jessica “Rabbit” King, a co-owner of the aperitivo bar Brother Wolf and neighboring Italian restaurant Osteria Stella in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee. “It’s the pinnacle of a warm-weather cocktail that can be easily enjoyed over long evenings without being overwhelmingly syrupy sweet.”
The quenching Venetian Spritz derives its bold character from Select Aperitivo, the centerpiece ingredient. Launched in 1920 by Fratelli Pilla & C. Distillery in Venice and now part of the Gruppo Montenegro portfolio, the ruby red-hued aperitif is made with 30 macerated botanicals, including rhubarb roots and juniper berries, that spring to life when simply paired with Prosecco and seltzer water.
“While the Aperol Spritz variation has been mass-produced and is widely celebrated of late, the Venetian is its older and more mature cousin with a bit more rounded balance and character,” explains King.
The Venetian Spritz, frequently called for at Brother Wolf, appeals to guests because of its complex taste and aromas, says King. Even before taking the first sip, its fragrant oils garnered from freshly sliced orange “provide a blast of refreshment,” as she puts it. “The ice-crisped bubbles and sharp burst of tart reimagine the first lick of a bright, fluorescent Popsicle,” she adds. “The dry, pleasant bitterness of the Select Aperitivo packs a punch just before summoning the Prosecco to calm the palate.”
Venetian Spritz Selling Points
- Between its effervescence, sweet yet tart, citrus-forward flavor profile, and low ABV (17.5%), the Venetian Spritz is an ideal spring and summer drink.
- The Aperol Spritz has taken consumers by storm; it isn’t a tough sell to introduce them to this close Italian cousin.
- It’s a quick, three-ingredient build on ice preparation, says King, so “the Venetian is fast out of the well. Our bartenders love making them, our servers love selling them, and our guests love drinking them.”
The Original Venetian Spritz Recipe
- 2 oz. Select Aperitivo
- 3 oz. Prosecco
- 1 oz. seltzer water
Method: Fill a wine glass with ice. Combine ingredients and stir gently. Garnish with an orange wheel and a large green olive.
Alia Akkam is a writer who covers food, drink, travel, and design. She is the author of Behind the Bar: 50 Cocktails from the World’s Most Iconic Hotels (Hardie Grant) and her work has appeared in Architecturaldigest.com, Dwell.com, Penta, Vogue.com, BBC, Playboy, and Taste, among others, and she is a former editor at Edible Queens, Hospitality Design, and Beverage Media. A native New Yorker, Alia now calls Budapest home. Follow Alia @behdria.