Spritz and venetian aperitifs

Having an aperitif has become almost like a ritual among young people: it is a time when you can chat and have fun with your friends, or even meet new people. All you need is a table, some cicchetti (venetian appetizers) and a good drink. But…. Which drink? If you’re in Venice, don’t forget to try the most traditional and classic of venetian aperitifs, the Spritz. But this is not the only drink born in Venice, there are others to discover!

Spritz, the father of venetian aperitifs

In time, spritz became one of the most popular drinks among young venetians, but it was born centuries ago at Serenissima Republic of Venice time. According to tradition, Italian wines were known to be great, but with a too high alcoholic content for foreigners. This is the reason why at Serenissima time the soldiers of Austrian Empire used to dilute wine with sparkling water. All they had to do was say “Spritzen!” and the innkeeper would serve them an ancient version of our modern spritz. According to others folk stories, it was the venetian dockyardmen that started diluting wine with water. Between one shift and the other, they used to have a substantial snack followed by this drink.

Spritz became a real cocktail between 1920 and 1930, when Aperol and Select started spreading. However, it gained popularity as aperitif only in the 70’s, when it became the official drink of Venice. According to venetians, spritz is to be drank in bacari followed by cicchetti (even better if you’re with your family or friends), but all over the world is considered a sophisticated drink and can be found in formal and chic environments. It can be very expensive abroad, but in Venice an authentic spritz usually costs 2.50€!

Spritz’s brother: the Bellini

Thanks to spritz, bartenders discovered that the combination of white sparkling wine and fruit was really appreciated by customers. In 1948 at the historical Harry’s Bar, Giuseppe Cipriani (head bartender and entrepreneur) had a revelation: he invented a brand new cocktail, made with prosecco wine and peach pulp, to honor a famous painter called Bellini (known also as Giambellino). Bellini is the name he gave to its creation. From that moment on, the cocktail was included in the menu and considered a specialty. Its recipe was brought also to the american branch in New York, where it became immediately popular.