The Spritz is a perfect summer cocktail. It’s light, refreshing and relatively low-ABV, and because the Spritz is more a template than a specific recipe, it offers endless room for experimentation. The Aperol Spritz, with Aperol (a bittersweet Italian liqueur), prosecco and club soda, is the most famous of the category, but bartenders continue to riff on this classic in exciting ways.
Take the Scarlet Spritz. It’s an original drink by Brandon Lockman, the head bartender at Red Star Tavern in Portland, Oregon. He sticks with Aperol but infuses it with fresh strawberries for a fruity kick. He pairs it with Lillet Blanc, the French wine-based aperitif, plus rhubarb bitters, which complement the rhubarb flavors present in Aperol. That’s all served in an absinthe-rinsed Nick & Nora glass for a hint of herbal, anise-y aromatics, then topped with sparkling wine. The finished product is light, bubbly and exactly what you want when the weather turns warm.
There is one downside to drinking a Spritz: getting to the bottom of your glass. Lockman meets this challenge by serving any remaining liquid from prepping the drink in a tiny carafe nestled in ice, so you can refill your glass as it’s depleted. Depending on the size of your glass, you may not require this fun bonus. But it’s a visually pleasing addition to the cocktail, so you might consider doubling the recipe to ensure you have a little extra to go around. When that first one goes down quickly, you’ll be glad to have reinforcements.
- Absinthe, to rinse
- 1 1/2 ounces strawberry-infused Aperol*
- 1/2 ounce Lillet Blanc aperitif
- 2 dashes rhubarb bitters
- Sparkling wine, chilled, to top
- Garnish: strawberry
- Garnish: lemon twist
Coat the inside of a coupe or Nick & Nora glass with absinthe, then discard the excess and set aside.
Add the infused Aperol, Lillet Blanc and rhubarb bitters to a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.
Strain into the prepared glass.
Top with sparkling wine.
Garnish with a speared strawberry and lemon twist.
Serve the remainder of the drink in a small carafe over ice, if desired.
*Strawberry-infused Aperol: Soak 1/2 pint fresh strawberries in a 750 mL bottle of Aperol for at least 8 hours or overnight, then strain out solids. Store the infused Aperol in the refrigerator.