The strongest elements of Italian culture—think art, food, architecture—tend to be defined by a few recurring things: Elevated aesthetics, practicality, and gusto. Unsurprisingly, the drinking culture in The Boot follows suit.
In addition to the country's many wine regions, there is an immense cocktail culture that gave birth to iconic drinks like the Bellini and Negroni, and kicked off the aperitivi tradition of the pre-dinner cocktail.
Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau's new book, Spritz: Italy's Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes is an ode to (and an anthology of) the spritz: wine-based cocktails that are served as apéritifs all over the country.
"It's meant to be sipped during golden hour—right after the sun starts to set, before you take your first bite."
Inspired by a trip they took to Northern Italy, Baiocchi and Pariseau, who also co-founded the stellar website Punch, dedicated to drinking culture, realized during their travels that "spritz" was more a way of living than simply refreshment before dinner.
Spritz cocktails are typically made up of three parts: wine (sparkling, like dry prosecco), soda water, and bitters (Aperol, Campari, Cynar, and such). In Northern Italy, it's always served with a single green olive or a slice of citrus. According to the writers, it also needs to be "effervescent, low in alcohol, and bitter," to be counted as spritz (keep in mind, it's supposed to increase your appetite without getting you drunk). It's meant to be sipped during golden hour—right after the sun starts to set, before you take your first bite, just after sunset.
Here, Baiocchi and Pariseau share one of the book's recipes: a simple, classic approach from Milan's famous Bar Basso. Consider mixing one up just before golden hour today.
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce sweet vermouth
3 ounces Prosecco
How to Make It
Build the ingredients in a rocks glass over ice. Add an orange half-wheel as garnish.
Spritz: Italy's Most Iconic Cocktail, with Recipes, $19, penguinrandomhouse.com.