When looking for inspiration for a cocktail, football isn’t the most obvious choice. But sometimes all you need is the love of a team to inspire a creative libation, like the War Streets Spritz from bartender Michael Anderson. Anderson created this agave spirit drink while working at Butcher and the Rye in in Pittsburgh in homage to the city’s beloved team, the Steelers, and its legendary fullback, Franco Harris. In it, tequila, mezcal and Aperol get boosted with ginger syrup and lemon juice, with a bit of prosecco in honor of Harris’ “Italian army,” the nickname given to the legion of fans that supported him.
“The War Streets Spritz is named in honor of Franco Harris’ Italian army and the historic Mexican War Streets neighborhood on Pittsburgh’s North Side,” Anderson says of his drink, describing the neighborhood whose streets are named after notable battles and figures of the Mexican-American War. “Not far from the Steelers’ Heinz Field, War Streets represents an ideal setting for a low-alcohol pregame cocktail before walking down the hill for tailgating.”
Anderson uses Espolón for the reposado tequila in the drink, and Del Maguey Vida for the mezcal. However, another high-quality reposado can be used instead, and another espadin mezcal can stand in for the Vida if need be. The resulting drink is juicy, refreshing and slightly bubbly. “Incorporating premium agave spirits and made in an Italian style, the War Streets Spritz is a great way to kick off a day of watching the Steelers dominate the competition,” Anderson says.
- 3/4 ounce Espolón reposado tequila
- 3/4 ounce Aperol
- 1/2 ounce Del Maguey Vida mezcal
- 3/4 ounce ginger syrup*
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
- Splash prosecco
- Garnish: 2 lemon wheels
- Garnish: fresh ginger root slice
- Garnish: basil leaf
Add the reposado tequila, aperol, mezcal, ginger syrup, lemon juice and Peychaud’s bitters into a shaker filled with ice, and shake until well-chilled.
Strain into a Collis glass over fresh ice, and top with the prosecco.
Garnish with 2 lemon wheels, 1 slice of fresh ginger root and 1 basil leaf.
*Ginger syrup: Add 8 ounces of cleaned (no need to peel it), roughly chopped ginger (each piece should be about the size of your pinkie tip), 8 ounces of sugar and 8 ounces of boiling water to a blender and blend on high until mixture is smooth, then fine-strain through a sieve, and let cool to room temperature. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.