Created by Jen Rae, the bar manager at the fabulous amaro-focused Seattle bar Barnacle, the Channel Orange was inspired by that most classic of aperitivi, the Spritz. Popularized in Italian and Austrian cafes before making its way stateside, the most ubiquitous of the Spritz family is the Aperol Spritz. This variation follows the same recipe template—bitter liqueur, prosecco, club soda, citrus garnish—but enhances it by calling for three different bitter liqueurs rarely seen behind the bar, as well as grapefruit soda to make those citrus notes pop. The end results yield a nuanced, bright and citrusy drink.
Rae uses Negroni Aperitivo Sixteen for the largest portion of the trinity of bittersweet liquors. Inspired by the drink of the the same name, this bittersweet liqueur shares a similar hue to Campari, but has more notes of orange, gentian and rhubarb. Next is Amara, an amaro d’arancia rossa, or blood orange liqueur. Made in Sicily, it’s somewhere between a traditional amaro and a fruit liqueur. And, rather than using a plain club soda, Rae opts for a grapefruit soda, particularly one from Q Mixers, though other brands could work in a pinch (just maybe stay away from the Squirt for this one). “For the spritz, I really wanted to accentuate citrus flavors without the use of actual citrus juice, as Barnacle doesn’t have juice,” she says. “The Negroni Aperitivo and Amara Rosa are packed with citrus flavors, and the Q Grapefruit soda brings the brightness.”
The third liqueur used in the Channel Orange is one that’s difficult to replace or substitute: Granada-Vallet pomegranate liqueur. A Mexican bittersweet liqueur inspired by the Italian style, it’s made with pomegranate as well as cinnamon, fennel, gentian root, wormwood, cinchona bark, orange, kaffir lime and Oaxacan cochineal.
The whole thing is topped off with the Q soda and some prosecco as is traditional with any spritz. Something like a cava would work as well, though most Champagnes are going to be a bit too bready and rich for a spritz. Like anything served at Barnacle, it’s best when paired with some fresh seafood, especially some briney raw oysters from the Pacific Ocean.
- 3/4 ounce Negroni Aperitivo Sixteen
- 1/2 ounce Amara Sicilian blood orange liqueur
- 1/4 ounce Granada-Vallet pomegranate liqueur
- 1 ounce grapefruit soda (such as Q Mixers)
- 3 ounces prosecco
- Garnish: grapefruit twist
Add all ingredients into a wine glass filled with ice and stir briefly to combine.
Garnish with a grapefruit twist.