OK, I’m going to ask you to remain calm and stay the course with me here. What I’m about to tell may be uncomfortable.
It was for me.
But in the 1982 words of KC and the Sunshine Band, it’s time.
No we’re not giving up drinking, nothing that dramatic (and seriously, we all need a drink after witnessing those moves in those pants, don’t we?). But after this week’s Cocktail Shakedown, I think you’ll agree that it is definitely time to move on from the cool orange drink we’ve all been enjoying.
The Spritz Veneziano – an IBA New Era cocktail, or as you probably know it, the Aperol Spritz can possibly be retired.
Now don’t panic. We aren’t turning our backs on Aperol, we like Aperol.
You probably know it, it’s orange in colour and flavour and has a slight bitterness that comes from its secret recipe of herbs and roots. And, at only 11% alcohol, is about half as potent as its stable-mate Campari.
Mix it with some Prosecco and soda water, add a bunch of ice and an orange slice, and you have the Aperol Spritz, or the Spritz Veneziano.
And that’s partly where this drink starts to go wrong.
Spritz Veneziano means Spritz of Venice. Except it wasn’t from Venice, it was from Veneto, the district that includes Venice but also Verona, the home of ill-fated lovers Romeo and Juliet, and Padua.
Aperol was created by brothers Luigi and Silvio Barbieri after they inherited an alcohol company from their father in 1912. It was debuted at the Padua Exhibition in 1919.
So it should really be called Spritz Veneto or Spritz Padua. That’s important but it is fairly typical of the IBA to get it wrong and if the cocktail tasted AMAZING, of course it wouldn’t matter.
A rose by any other name and all that tangentially-relevant malarkey.
But whatever you call it, it should taste better. The Aperol Spritz is OK. It’s a great day-time cocktail which is why it is making an appearance at fashionable brunch venues as an all-you-can-drink option to rival that other IBA travesty, the not-cocktail Mimosa. It’s like a little glass of liquid sunshine in appearance and their brand team has done some great work in creating pop-up bars where it just looks impossible to have a bad time on a summer’s day, but…
I’m going to show you a better way, something that should be your new Go-To for an Aperol cocktail.
Google “Montserrat cocktail” and you’ll get two versions. One has Irish Whiskey and is a take on an old-fashioned. The other, the one we’re talking about, was created in New York and named after the Virgin of Montserrat aka the Black Madonna.
I don’t want to brag, but I think we’ve improved on that at Shake, Stir, Muddle. OK, I do want to brag, we’ve done some really great work at the cocktail cart here.
Channel KC and Shake, Shake, Shake equal parts Aperol and Red Vermouth (we used Martini Rosso) with ice, put in a glass with lots more ice, pour over a little Cava and garnish with three green olives.
Because it’s a take on the Montserrat, we’re calling it R.O.U.S. which everyone of good taste will know to be a reference to monster rats in The Princess Bride.
Because it is so beautiful to look at, you may also choose call it a “Goldman” after William Goldman who wrote The Princess Bride (the novel and the screenplay) and a million other books, plays and screenplays that you’d doubtlessly enjoyed.
Whatever name you go for, you’ll definitely call it delicious.
Now before you ask, Cava isn’t the Fijian muddy water that does little for you except slightly numb your lips (that’s Kava), it’s a Spanish sparkling wine – and just as Prosecco can be substituted for any other sparkling wine in an Aperol Spritz, so too can Cava be substituted for Prosecco or Australian sparkling (which we need a cooler name for) or champagne.
I’ve tried them all.
Like the Veneziano or Aperol Spritz, the R.O.U.S. is easy to mix up for a crowd, so if KC and the 15-strong Sunshine Band drop over for brunch, this’ll have you covered.
Trust me. Swap out your Aperol Spritz for a Goldman and remember, never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.