There’s a trend in home cocktailing eschewing fancy ingredients, complicated syrups and homemade tinctures.
Call it an embrace of Italian sprezzatura, coined by 16th century author Baldassare Castiglione in “The Book of the Courtier” as “a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it.” And the cocktail emblematic of the movement? The spritz. Though not exactly related, the spritz and sprezzatura embody the same devil-may-care attitude. Essentially, spritzes are cocktails without the cockiness.
Of course, they’re nothing new. The spritz has been an Italian pre-dinner drink for decades, and drinks writer and author Talia Baiocchi literally wrote the book, called simply “Spritz,” on the drink back in 2016. But as the days grow shorter and times more trying, it’s hard to argue against the utility of the drink, characterized by lighter alcohol content, bubbles (from sparkling wine or water), a base of wine or a liqueur, and a bittering agent, such as amaro. The drink is breezy and can be thrown together in whatever glass you have available, garnish optional.
Futzing around the house one particularly autumnal day, I wanted an easy drink to keep me company while paying bills, sending off overdue emails to friends and otherwise tidying the house. Not wanting to spend my day in a haze but wanting a little pep in my step, I grabbed some leftover muscadet from the fridge — the remains of a bottle from dinner the night before — and tossed it with a new liqueur from a Midwestern distiller, Apologue. The bright, dry and citrus wine was the perfect contrast to the more floral, syrupy aronia berry spirit, while a generous topping of Topo Chico sparkling water (and it’s aggressive bubble) lifted the whole shebang. Because I had it lying around, a twist of orange zest added just a bit more aromatic zing.
As long as you’ve got wine, bubbles and bitters, you can essentially always live the spritz life. I mean, my version came together in under two minutes, near-instant gratification.
To spritz is almost as easy as popping open a can of beer. Almost.
- 2 ounces muscadet
- 1-1/2 ounce Apologue Aronia Berry liqueur
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- Sparkling water, such as Topo Chico
- Orange zest, for garnish
In an old-fashioned glass with ice, build the drink in the order of the ingredients list. Stir with a bar spoon, or nature’s stirrer: Your index finger. That’s it. Enjoy.