I think it’s no secret that I am in love with Italy. I have been since I was 11 and always will be. As I daydream about going back there very soon, I’m always immediately enchanted by any book about the country, whether it’s history, the food, or traveling its diverse and bustling cities. This book was no exception. I can still remember the bubbly, red aperitivo, or spritzer as I call it, I had at probably the wrong time of day and which most likely made the bartender either scoff or laugh at me. Even though it was only one in the whole three months I lived there, it’s a beautiful memory because I know exactly where it was and where my love affair with this drink began.
I anticipate making many, many more in the years to come. Ahem, if you ever, um, want to try one with me, you know where to find me 😉
Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, With Recipes by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau(Ten Speed Press, 176 pages)
Have you ever fallen in love with a concept, a state of being, a glamorized item that you just want to think about and experience constantly? For me, that is the infamous Italian spritzer, a drink that enraptured and enticed me from the bars of Italy’s most beautiful cities. Though I only had one spritzer while I was there (the horror, right?!), in Trieste while visiting one of the world’s largest underground caves, I was again sold from the moment I saw this book. My love affair with the spritz wasn’t over, nor was I the first to be drawn by the enchantment behind the drink—or as the authors would argue—this “mantra, an attitude,” and state of being and drinking.
Spritz contains the history from ancient Rome, evolvement of the aperitivo throughout Northern Italy, and modern culture everywhere of the iconic cocktail and its “golden hour.” Aperitivo means a drink “meant to open a meal,” which is a part of the Italian culture and its importance on food and refreshers. Be prepared to learn some new words and many, many new brands and names of mixers—the ingredients that will make up your perfect spritzer. In Italy, the drink is enjoyed by nearly all at 7pm complete with snacks, transforming piazzas in every town into people’s very own social sitting rooms.
Baiocchi and Pariseau would know—they traveled from Trieste to Turin on their “Spritz Trail” in the region where it all developed to learn all they could about everything that goes into making the perfect spritz. Among many other juicy facts, here are the basics: 1) A spritz is not a spritz without bubbles, whether that be through champagne or soda water, 2) the drink is low in alcohol due to the young hour upon which it is enjoyed, and 3) it will always be slightly bitter, which is what a traditional spritz is most famous for. Your basic recipe is as follows: 1 ounce of bitters, some soda water, then top with white wine and some citrus.
That seems pretty straight forward, until Baiocchi and Pariseau launch into the history of the most famous bitters and many argue is the true way to assemble a spritz. They follow with a delightful ensemble of cocktail and simple syrup recipes, both well known and original submissions from others, as well as some Italian recipes for the aperitivo table snacks. Even though some of the ingredients may be hard to get one’s hands on, the recipes are easy to follow and the colorful, gorgeous pictures here and there certainly help.
While I know I won’t be buying all those different mixers anytime soon (ain’t nobody got the budget for that!), and this complete book is truly for the spritz aficionado who wants to try it all (I will not be trying the sardines recipe near the back, no thank you), I learned a lot from these pages and will keep them very near my home bar from now on. Spritz made me fall in love with the drink all over again and I would recommend it to any person wanting to explore more into Italy’s beautiful culture.
I received this book free from Blogging For Books as part of their Book Review Blogger program in exchange for an honest review.