Nick's Picks: Aperol spritz
The Italian aperitif Aperol was invented in 1919. Ninety-nine years later, in 2018, it caught on like wildfire. This citrusy, bitter liqueur is still experiencing its moment in the spotlight with one of the most popular cocktails in recent memory, the Aperol spritz.
While for years the Aperol spritz—made with 4 1/2 parts prosecco, 2 1/2 parts Aperol, and one part club soda—has been a typical before dinner cocktail in Europe, its recent U.S. adoration is due in large part to savvy marketing techniques. Before Aperol made its way to Rochester’s bar tops and restaurant tables, the brand campaigned in America's biggest cities. In New York City, there were Aperol spritz booths at popular outdoor summer events like the Governors Ball Music Festival and the Jazz Age Lawn Party. Aperol also plastered its logo all over a luxury bus that carries New Yorkers to the Hamptons on weekends. In California, Aperol booths were a mainstay at trendy functions in Palm Springs and Los Angeles. On both coasts and everywhere in between the brand flooded bars and restaurants with bright-orange Aperol-branded merchandise, including posters, straws, shirts, sunglasses, hats, cups, and napkins.
The cocktail's photogenic appearance also aided its meteoric rise. Boasting an eye-catching bright-orange color, the Aperol spritz, which is typically served in a large wine glass, is the perfect drink for the digital era. Boomerangs of glasses filled with Aperol clinking at brunch and happy hour clogged social media throughout the past year. Per Digiday, Aperol's Instagram has recently seen a 300% increase in traffic.
With a light, refreshing feel; slightly sweet, slightly bitter flavor; and low alcohol percentage; the Aperol spritz has sustained its marketing blitz with its quality, and is now served at almost every Rochester cocktail bar. Paul Milne, the bar manager at Native, credits the drink’s perfect composition for its popularity.
“A simple rule for cocktails is that if you've got something sweet and a decent acidity, you're going to have a balance between the two flavor profiles and it’s going to make you want to continue to drink,” says Milne. “You’ve got that sweet up front with prosecco, and the Aperol has acidity at the end which then clears that sweet away—kind of making you want another sip.”
Whether it is due to marketing tactics, social media influence, or the drink itself, the Aperol Spritz, at least for now, is here to stay.
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