As we forge on through what is said to be the hottest August Boston has seen, we find ourselves craving the summertime Coppa go-to: a SPRITZ. I sat down with Sam Wolf, Coppa’s Assistant General Manager (and resident spritz expert), to find out exactly why a spritz is so refreshing.
Sam sets the record straight on why there is so much more to a spritz than that stand out Aperol orange we’ve all come to know and love, and he talks us through the basics, the fads, and the liqueurs we should being getting to know as we spritz this summer.
Then, Devin Youngclaus, Coppa Bar Manager tells us about the various spritzes being served at Coppa this summer and why, as we continue to sizzle, we have plenty of reason to try them all!
Tell us, Sam, what is a Spritz?
In broad strokes, a spritz is any liqueur, traditionally a bitter liqueur mixed with sparkling wine and topped with club soda.
However, the term spritz has become synonymous with an Aperol spritz. In the late 50’s, it became famous in Northern Italy and Aperol took the opportunity to capitalize on that campaign back in America.
What’s nice about the spritz is their function as an aperitif, they really do get your palate working. Having one when you arrive at the restaurant gets your mouth watering for dinner.
Spritzes are also great for the home bartender. You can take this same spritz we have here at Coppa and make them easily at home, even make pitchers of Aperol spritzes ahead of time so you can just pour and serve to guests.
The Aperol Spritz is so romantic, so evocative. You see that color and immediately think you could be drinking it on a really cool speed boat in the Amalfi coast.
It’s a cocktail of all seasons, great in summer but has that bitter element in it that is warming in winter as well.
Campari spritz kicks up the bitterness and makes it a little more apértif-fy. Pretty much anything that has that bitterness is going to make a great spritz.
Tell me about the variations of spritzes.
The whole concept of a spritz is great for a place like Coppa, because working within the confines of our cordial license, there are very few higher proof liqueurs. Spritzes become a great canvas for us to work with because we have all these herbal aperitifs to play with.
We work very closely with a vermouth called Alessio produced by a brand called Tempus Fugit Spirits. It’s a white vermouth that is dry and very floral which lends itself to spritzes.
We also work with Italicus, a bergamot liqueur. Bergamot is one of the main flavorings in earl grey tea, it’s sort of like a cross between a bitter lemon and orange.
Traditionally in Italy, one of the other liqueurs used in a spritzes is Cynar, which in America we use a lot in an after-dinner drink but it’s really great in a spritz.
We also carry something called Ramona which is a canned Spritz - a sparkling rose and pink grapefruit juice. It’s got about the same alcohol content as a beer.
Let’s talk about the low ABV (alcohol by volume) trend.
Low ABV is part of the nature of a spritz. It’s a daytime drink meant to be enjoyed leading into dinner, it’s not meant to knock you on your ass before the salad is served.
Spritzes are especially relevant today because of the ‘low ABV’ trend, they’re delicious and a little easier to handle. It’s a liqueur you would make it with, not a liquor. So, a gin and soda is not a spritz. By volume it is mostly wine, and therefore classified as a wine cocktail. The soda water is there to help tie it all together, almost like you would use bitters in another cocktail.
It’s really sort of natural that this trend occurred, because in the last 5 or 10 years we’ve seen this resurgence of cocktails and cocktail bars. People want to go to these places and have these drinks because these bartenders are super talented, but if you have 2 or 3 of them the average person is done for the night. If you focus on low ABV cocktails however, you can sit across the bar from a really talented person and have 3 to 4 of their drinks and be able to continue on after you get up.
Now, Devin, tell us about the Spritz’s on offer at Coppa right now.
We always rotate our spritzes per season. They’re always light and refreshing and perfect to sit and enjoy on the patio but not drink your face off because they’re low ABV. Right now, we have the Aperol Spritz which is always a delicious go-to.
Another we feature right now is the Italicus Spritz. Italicus is this gorgeous bergamot liquor, it has this earl gray flavor, lots of floral and herbaceous notes. We mix that up with some orange bitters and top it with a sparkling rose which gives it a really pretty pink color. Really pretty floral alternative to the Aperol Spritz.
We also have the Alessio Spritz. Alessio is a white vermouth out of Piedmont, really dry and herbaceous. Lot of white pepper notes, so if anyone is looking for something dry and savory instead of the sweeter up-front spritz, this is one of my favorites. Really clean. We make it in the same style as the Aperol Spritz, with soda water and prosecco and throw a lemon peel in there as well.
I’d say spritzes aren’t just a summer drink, and moving into the fall, Coppa’s offerings will adjust to be in a more savory style, more spiced style, where you can still enjoy a low ABV type cocktail, but get into the mood of the new season as well.