Transport your tastebuds to Italy with an Aperol spritz. Stephanie Gerson / Daily Nexus

The Aperol spritz is the drink of the summer — I don’t make the rules. But did you know that this warm-weather beverage was born out of a preference to dilute wine? Originating in northern Italy, this orange-hued cocktail takes inspiration from a practice adopted by Austro-Hungarians in the 1800s. Visiting Austro-Hungarian soldiers would add a splash, or spritz in German, of water to northern Italian wines to decrease the wine’s intense flavors

Over time, the spritz evolved from watered-down wine into the mixed drink we know and love today. Padua-born brothers Luigi Barbieri and Silvio Barbieri created Aperol, the signature ingredient of the spritz, in 1919 and debuted the drink at the 1919 Padua International Fair, in line with the emerging European trend of consuming aperitifs as a pre-dinner drink to stimulate one’s appetite. Yet, the Aperol Spritz recipe really took off in the 1950s, consisting of three parts prosecco, two parts Aperol and one part soda or sparkling water. The result is a mild, sparkling cocktail with slightly bitter and floral flavor notes from Aperol’s key ingredients of oranges, rhubarb and various herbs. 

Yield: 1 drink

Time: 5 minutes


  • 2 ounces Aperol
  • 4 ounces prosecco of choice
  • 1 ounce sparkling water or tonic water 
  • 1 large ice cube
  • 1 orange slice to garnish


  1. Add your ice cube to a glass. While the traditional Aperol spritz is served in a wine glass, I made mine in a short glass. Rest assured — no matter the glass you use, your spritz will still taste delicious.
  2. Measure out the Aperol and add to your glass.
  3. Top off your glass with prosecco and sparkling water. For a less boozy option, increase the ratio of sparkling water. Tonic water is another great alternative for those who like sweeter cocktails. Once I used half an ounce of Olipop Orange Squeeze Sparkling Tonic and half an ounce of Topo Chico Sparkling Mineral Water in place of just sparkling water — there’s no true reasoning behind this choice, I just had a can of opened Olipop and a few sips remaining from a Topo Chico in my fridge and wanted to get a little creative. The result was a sweet, more flavorful drink that emphasized the notes of citrus and quieted the presence of bitter herbs in the Aperol itself. 
  4. Gently stir your spritz, garnish with an orange slice and enjoy!

I hope this simple recipe emphasizes the fact that you don’t need to be lounging on the beaches of Positano to indulge in this northern Italian cocktail. This summer, I’ve been serving Aperol spritzes alongside an array of Italian dishes — homemade pizza, caprese salad, pasta and the like — in an effort to transport my tastebuds to Italy without all the summer travel expenses. 

As the spritz has gained popularity in the states, there’s been word of American food producers looking to create American liqueur alternatives to Aperol with an emphasis on using locally sourced ingredients rather than depending on this imported product. I’m excited to witness the emergence of more regional variations of this light and refreshing aperitif. But for now, I’m standing by this Italian classic all summer long. 


Stephanie Gerson
Stephanie Gerson is a fourth-year Art History major and On the Menu Co-Editor. She can usually be found taking long walks, wandering about museums or grocery shopping.