On the Spritz

These bright, bubbly, batchable aperitivo cocktails are the breeziest of summer drinks

Spritz Pitchers Moto Guzzi Rose All Day Punch House Spritz
Everyone should have a house spritz, whose proportions are known by heart and ingredients are stocked easily, like this one from Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau of PUNCH. Get the recipe for Punch House SpritzMatt Taylor-Gross

Spritzes are the cocktail world's rumpled linen button-down: unfussy warm-weather favorites with Italian style to spare. More a method than a kind of drink, spritzing was, as the mythos goes, born in Hapsburg-occupied northern Italy in the 19th century. It was there that Austrian soldiers introduced the practice of diluting the region's wines with a squirt (or spritz) of water to make them more pleasing to their Riesling-trained palates. Today, Italians knock back the wine-based effervescent cocktails—chief among them, prosecco tinted orange-red with the bittersweet liqueur Aperol—during the pre-dinner aperitivo hour. In America, the fatuous white wine spritzer appeared as a sort of halfhearted diet fad in the 1980s, but has since been reimagined as a chic prelude to eating or a softer alternative to heavier-hitting drinks. Whipped up with just a few ingredients, the spritz has a Technicolor genius that lies in its I-woke-up-like-this simplicity. Make your base in a large batch and set it out in a pitcher alongside a bubbly mixer for guests to add as they please. The long, lean drinks will shepherd you through the golden evening hours with ease.

Best Ways to Add Bubbles

PROSECCO
Its clean, light, fruit-forward flavors make prosecco the ideal candidate for mixing. Bisol, Adami, and Nino Franco all produce widely available, high-quality versions.

SODA WATER
Maximum sparkle is key, and, for that, Canada Dry's aggressive bubbles do the job. If you have a SodaStream, the spritz is your oyster: Carbonate your water to the highest level, and then carbonate it again for a little extra oomph.

THE ALTERNATIVES
Although prosecco or soda water is traditionally what puts the spritz in a spritz, anything with a little CO2 will do the trick.

Fizzy Alternative What it Adds Pairs Well With One to Try
Tonic Water A double bitter kick Oloroso Sherry or Dry Vermouth Fever-Tree, from $2.49 at amazon.com
Lambrusco Red-fruit flavors and tannic bubbles Herbal Amaros Lini 910, $15 at astorwines.com
Basque or (more polished) Norman Cider A funky fruitiness Salty Manzanilla or Fino Sherries See Three Basque Ciders to Drink Right Now
Crémant d'Alsace Money to your pocket (it's a French sparkler that's less expensive than Champagne). Use it as a substitute in any Champagne cocktail. Dirler-Cadé, $20 at winehouse.com; Albert Mann, $23 at astorwines.com; or Barmès-Buecher, $25 at vdgwine.com
Spritz Cocktails Coming Up Rose Lady Stoneheart
Everything's Coming Up Rosé
Natasha David, head bartender of New York City's Nitecap, grew up in Germany, where everything from wine to apple juice got gespritzt. Her bright fuchsia aperitivo mixes tannic hibiscus tea, sweet Lillet Rosé, and dry rosé with a hit of prosecco. Get the recipe for Everything's Coming Up RoséMatt Taylor-Gross

Rules of the Spritz

Don't sweat the measurements. The easygoing spritz is improvisational (and forgiving) by nature.

Keep it bitter. Bitterness sparks appetite—the point of a spritz. Choose an aperitivo that is boldly bitter (Campari, Cynar) or more mellow (Cocchi Americano, Aperol, Cappelletti).

The more bubbles, the better. If your spritz loses its sparkle, what's the point? Add another splash of soda, prosecco, or tonic whenever things are feeling flat.

Give it body. A spritz should be light on its feet but should also have viscosity. Use fruit liqueurs (such as Giffard) or syrups to add complexity and weight.

Beware of getting spritz-faced. They go down easily. So do as the Italians do and take yours with little nibbles.

Spritz: Italy's Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau is available at amazon.com.

Moto Guzzi
Moto Guzzi Spritz
This spritz cocktail swaps in a red wine aperitif in place of Aperol, for a cocktail with more pronounced red berry notes, and still plenty of effervescence.Matt Taylor-Gross
Rosé All Day
Rose All Day
A papaya shrub, easily made weeks in advance, adds earthy sweet-and-sour notes to this playful prosecco sparkler.Matt Taylor-Gross
Punch House Spritz
Punch House Spritz
Lambrusco rosé, Cocchi Americano, fresh grapefruit juice, and club soda come together in this simple spritz.Matt Taylor-Gross
Everything's Coming Up Rosé
Everything's Coming Up Rosé
This bright fuchsia aperitivo mixes tannic hibiscus tea, sweet Lillet Rosé, and dry rosé with a hit of prosecco. Get the recipe for Everything's Coming Up Rosé »Matt Taylor-Gross
Lady Stoneheart
Lady Stone Heart
For this ode to the Game of Thrones noblewoman, Punt e Mes—the dark and bitter quina-vermouth hybrid—is softened with a long pour of champagne.Matt Taylor-Gross