A Luxardo spritz, and an Aperol spritz from Battalion
It’s over 100 degrees out there, we don’t need to tell you. From morning to midnight, folks of a wine bent are guzzling rosé in all of its forms, from lightly chilled to seriously slushy. But as much as I and others have long touted the wine as a perfect, year ’round vino for SA, enough already. There are other options — even if pink is still a priority.
In cities from Venice to Verona, the Italians have their own rose-tinted obsession: the Aperol Spritz. It’s the perfect late-afternoon, sit in the piazza and watch the world roll by drink — just a little herby bite, some sparkle, a lot of satisfaction. And while we may be short on Renaissance piazzas hereabouts, we do have Battalion, the former fire station come Italian restaurant on S. Alamo. It has its own kind of class. And it has an aperitivo section called the Battalion
Spritz. There are five, each employing a unique amaro or liqueur, and at $7, you might as well try ‘em all.
Aperol has the advantage of being one of the softer of the class of aperitifs called amaro, or bitter; they’re compounded of roots, herbs, citrus and spices, and the variations can seem almost infinite. Not only is the Aperol Spritz the granddaddy of all such refreshers, but it’s also low-alcohol, clocking in at only 11 percent — which means that, considering its cohorts of prosecco and Topo Chico, you can slug it at will. A feeling of Continental classiness is guaranteed to follow.
But if you’re willing to step the game up a tad, consider subbing Campari for the Aperol. It’s admittedly more bitter, and, at 27 percent, also more alcoholic. But it retains its bite longer over ice — and comes with an impressive orange swath to complement the even more vibrant color. Other options at Battalion include Luxardo maraschino liqueur, Cocchi Americano, an aromatized wine, and Cappelletti Rosso, another amaro that hits an alcoholic midpoint at 17 percent.
Yes, you can also do this at home. You’ll have to lay in a couple of the amari, but Campari, for example, is essential for cocktails such as the Negroni, another Italian classic. Find your own balance, but one good recipe for the Aperol Spritz calls for 4 ½ ounces brut prosecco, 2 ½ ounces Aperol, one lime wheel and one ounce of club soda or Topo. Pour the prosecco into a tall Collins glass (or wine goblet) filled with ice, then add the amaro and lime (or orange), topping with Topo.
Doing this myself at home, I started with the Cappelletti; it’s a little spicier and sweeter than the Aperol but the color is great. It’s a keeper. Less pretty and pink, but maybe a tad more complex (not that that’s what we’re looking for here), is the same recipe done with Averna; it’s cola-like in both color and taste. Also fine. And then there’s the unexpectedly good spritz with Cynar, an artichoke-based amaro. There’s a nice, herbal bitterness, but it doesn’t overwhelm — which is what Fernet Branca, the minty-bitey bartenders’ friend, does in spades. Yuck. And it’s definitely not pink to boot.