Day drink with a refreshing spritz
STORY: Angela Hansberger
Summer’s sizzling afternoons call for a sipper that follows the rules for cocktailing under the sun: easy, fizzy, refreshing and low in alcohol. Enter the spritz. Originating in the northeast of Italy, it’s a drink splashed together with a carefree dedication to leisure.
The spritz is one of the most popular aperitifs (before dinner drinks) in Italy, but it’s perfect for any time of day or occasion. Its bitterness readies the stomach for a meal, and those bubbles and bitter herbs aid digestion after dining.
The spritz is more a style of drinking than a recipe for a cocktail. Follow three general guidelines when spritzing. It’s always effervescent, whether the bubbles come from Prosecco or soda water. It’s low in alcohol; generally no more than an ounce of a strong spirit is stirred into a spritz, which allows for imbibing in more than one. Lastly, it’s bittersweet, incorporating an Italian aperitif or amaro. Best of all, it’s as easy to make as it is to drink—no bar tools needed. Simply fill a glass with ice (Italians use a wineglass), then combine wine, bubbles and a bitter element, and garnish with an orange wheel, lime wedge or even an olive, as the Venetians do.
If you don’t want to craft your own, here are some places to get your spritz fix around town.
Yebo Beach Haus boasts the atmosphere of a charming coastal getaway and a menu of small plates focusing on fresh seafood that are perfect to accompany the lighthearted spirit of a spritz. Its Aperol Spritz combines both Aperol and Campari, Cocchi vermouth, mineral water and sparkling wine.
At Ecco Buckhead, beverage director Erin Mason thoughtfully composed a spritz in the same manner architects and stylists designed the stunning interior. Mingling in the Napoleon Complex is quinquina, an aperitif wine made from Corsican ingredients, and pear liqueur.
“The Napoleon Complex is an effort to move away from dense, concentrated cocktails and on to those with more subtlety and nuance—more cocktail as aperitif, rather than boozy and stirred,” says Mason.
Whiskey Blue’s rooftop vantage point, with its plush leather couches and views of the Atlanta skyline, is an ideal setting for cocktails of any sort, particularly a spritz. The aptly named Buckhead Spritz mixes Absolute Elyx vodka, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, mint and sparkling wine.
Start your weekend off right with a spritz at brunch at Dantanna’s, where executive chef Brad Parker’s menu includes crab cakes, cured salmon avocado toast and other light bites. Forgo the traditional mimosa or Bloody Mary in favor of the citrusy Aperol Spritz with Aperol, sparkling wine, grapefruit juice and sparkling water.
The team at St. Cecilia readily embraces apero hour (short for aperitif), the cultural tradition the restaurant draws inspiration from. “We are introducing our own take on it, to include different parts of the Mediterranean and a number of various cultures,” says beverage guru Clarke Anderson. The ritual of the European coastline is about unwinding with food, friends and a libation in hand, and specially priced spritzes are available from 4 to 6:30 p.m. weekdays and 3 to 6:30 p.m. on weekends. Summer options include the Aperol Strawberry Spritz and Peach Sangria Spritz.
3400 Around Lenox Rd.
3586 Peachtree Rd. N.E.
3455 Peachtree Rd. N.E.
3377 Peachtree Rd.
Yebo Beach Haus
111 West Paces Ferry Rd. N.W.
Drinks columnist at Simply Buckhead. Food, spirits, and culture writer.