What if I told you that the most popular cocktail among Italian aperitifs had half Austrian origins? Hard to believe, yet it seems to be so .
The roots of our Spritz , or Spriss in Venetian dialect jargon, date back to the end of the eighteenth century, during the period of Austrian domination in the Lombardy-Veneto area. History tells us that the Habsburg soldiers, faced with an attempt to get closer to the local wine, did not appreciate its high alcohol content, which is why they thought it best to dilute it with sparkling water. Hence the action of spritzen , literally "sprinkle", which would clarify not only the Austrian practice in adjusting the alcohol content, but also the etymology of the best known aperitif on a national and international scale.
But the Spritz as we know it today was born only in the 1920s, when in addition to the simple act of spraying the water, it was decided to add a bitter or vermouth correction to the sparkling white wine.
At the beginning there were only two versions in circulation, the Paduan one, "stained" by Aperol , and the Venetian one, where the different color, more tending to bright red, was obtained from Select , a lagoon bitter with a citrus flavor, destined however to remain a peculiarity of the area.
Within a few years the Aperol Spritz ended up conquering the bars of many squares, so much so that it became the icon of the Italian aperitif. A success also rewarded by the IBA (International Bartenders Association), which since 1986 included it in the official lists of cocktails.
However, although the classic version of the Spritz remains an undisputed evergreen , whose anthem was also attended by Sir Oliver Skardi, former leader of the well-known Venetian group Pitura Freska, with the tribute song Fame un Spritz , the variants would be many and all different from each other for composition and origin.
Not only Aperol and Campari or, for stronger flavors, China Martini and Cynar ; much appreciated during the summer season is also the white or lemon Spritz , a thirst-quenching aperitif, obtained from the mixture of still white wine, soda and lemon juice.
Similar is the Brescia version of Il Pirlo , in which the perfect mix of still white wine, bitters and sparkling water is served in a spectacular balloon goblet.
A bridge of experimentation and quality is precisely that between Brescia and Treviso, which in 2016 launched a new proposal for an aperitif, the Fogliarossa Spritz . Born from the idea of Chef Giuliano Tonon (Da Celeste) and created by the Franciacorta Distilleries, the Fogliarossa liqueur enhances the protagonist element in the cuisine of the Marca, the late red IGP radicchio, exploiting its properties as a basic ingredient for cocktails. It is, in fact, a natural liqueur, the color of which is released only by the vegetable, without requiring any type of intervention. Presented on the occasion of Vinitaly 2016, the
Fogliarossa Spritz (4 doses of liqueur, 2 of Orange Sour and 4 of Rosé) was pleasantly welcomed by the general public.
In short, a single cocktail, but a thousand variations for what will always remain a Spritz «bon, co na feta de limon».
And you? What's your favorite version of Spritz? Write it in the comments.