The Amaro Spritz is one of the most refreshing cocktails out there! It's simple, easy to make (you just have to remember the 3-2-1 ratio), and is the perfect before-dinner drink. This drink is a big part of Italian culture. The happy hour, aka Aperitivo Hour, before dinner is meant to be enjoyed with a few appetizers and light spritz cocktails.
If you've never experienced a true Aperitivo Hour, consider this your invitation! Imagine a spread of antipasti, late afternoon sun slanting in, and a spritz like this in your hand. It's basically heaven on Earth, IMO!
Some other cocktails that would fit in perfectly with this vibe are my Limoncello Thyme Spritzer (although I'd suggest serving it over ice), or this Sage Margarita. Anything that puts you in mind of sunshine and relaxation!
Intro to Amari Liqueurs
What's an Amaro?
In Italian, the word amaro means "bitter". It's also a category of liqueurs (the plural is amari) that all have some bitter element to them.
Some of these liqueurs are considered aperitivi (or aperitifs), which means that they are meant to be drunk before a meal, to get your digestive juices flowing. Typically, the lighter red and white amari are aperitivi. The rest are considered digestivi (or digestifs), which means they are meant for enjoying after a meal.
Which Amaro Should I Choose?
There are literally hundreds of different amari on the market, and many restaurants and people make their own. They vary widely in flavor, sweetness, and strength, but all of them incorporate at least one bitter element, along with sugar and alcohol.
So, which amaro should you choose for this drink? The most famous version of the spritz is the Aperol Spritz. Aperol liqueur is a light, very sweet, and low-alcohol amaro. If Aperol is too far on the sweet side for you, something like Luxardo's Bitter Bianco (which I've used here), or Campari aperitivo liqueur might be better.
You can really try any amari in this recipe, even the ones considered digestivi (typically, the darker, higher-alcohol liqueurs). It's such a simple recipe that the flavors of each amaro will really come through and shine. Cynar liqueur is a great one to try!
This drink is so easy to remember, because all you need is three ingredients! You'll also need to remember the 3-2-1 ratio of ingredients: 3 parts sparkling wine, 2 parts liqueur, and 1 part seltzer. Easy peasy!
Here's what you'll need:
- Sparkling Wine - this drink was really made for Prosecco, which tends to be a little sweeter and more crisp than Champagne, but you can use whatever you prefer.
- Amaro liqueur - the most well-known amaro in a spritz is Aperol, but many bitter liqueurs will work beautifully.
- Seltzer - any seltzer will do! Something like San Pellegrino is not as bubbly as a regular seltzer, so opt for that if you want less carbonation.
Want to try a spritz-style drink, but have to conform to a certain diet? Check out these substitutions.
- Low Sugar - amari are notoriously high in sugar. This is to balance out the bitter flavors of the liqueur. To make a low-sugar type of spritz, instead of liqueur, opt for some cocktail bitters. In each drink, add about 5-8 dashes of your favorite bitters, and increase the seltzer to 3 ounces instead of 1. Then top with a dry sparkling wine.
- Alternative Sweetener - along the lines of the low sugar version, use cocktail bitters here. But instead of mixing the bitters with extra seltzer, use a simple syrup that's made with an alternative sugar, like allulose or erythritol. Then top with the seltzer and sparkling wine.
- Non-alcoholic - for a mocktail version of a spritz, I suggest adding some non-alcoholic cocktail bitters (check out Fee Brothers bitters) to your favorite flavored seltzer or soda. Pour it into a fancy glass over ice and throw in some cut-up citrus, and you'll get a similar feel without the buzz.
The only things you'll need for to make this drink are a jigger or small measuring cup, plus a knife and cutting board to prep your garnish. You might also want to have a bar spoon on hand to stir up the drink a little bit.
If, like me, you have a hard time opening a bottle of bubbly, you might also want to look into getting a Champagne bottle opener. It's a game changer!
This drink could not be easier to make, especially since it's made directly in the serving glass! Start out by cutting up any fruit, typically citrus, that you'll want to add for a garnish. Then, add ice to your serving glass.
Pour in the amaro liqueur, and then add in the seltzer.
Top with the sparkling wine. Give the drink a little stir if you'd like, so the liqueur mixes with the rest of the liquid. Finally, add your garnish, and serve.
Hint: the size of your serving glass matters! If you're not measuring out your sparkling wine, you might be tempted to add a little too much if your glass is large. The glass I've used in these photos is the Viski spritz glass, which holds a full 16 ounces of liquid, so there's no way this drink will fill it up without also adding a ton of ice. If you're unsure, just measure out your ingredients.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Amaro Spritz is made of just three ingredients: sparkling wine, seltzer, and an amaro liqueur. They're combined over ice and usually served with some kind of citrus garnish.
An amaro is actually a type of liqueur that contains bitter elements. Aperol is a well known brand of amaro liqueur.
There are hundreds of different amari, and each amaro tastes different! Campari has lots of citrusy bitterness, whereas Amaro Nonino is much warmer in flavor, with some vanilla, honey and allspice notes. What they all have in common, besides alcohol content, is a bitter element and usually lots of sugar.
In order to have the best carbonation, it's not recommended to batch these cocktails ahead of time. They are so easy to make, though, that making one becomes part of the fun of Aperitivo Hour!
- 2 ounces amaro liqueur (I've used Luxardo Bitter Bianco)
- 1 ounce seltzer
- 3 ounces sparkling wine (I've used Prosecco)
- citrus (for garnish)
- Cut up your citrus fruit into wedges or slices for garnish.
- Add ice into your serving glass.
- Pour the amaro liqueur over the ice.
- Add in the seltzer.
- Top with sparkling wine.
- Give it a quick stir if you'd like, and then add the cut up citrus as a garnish.
- Serve immediately (preferably alongside some appetizers to nosh on!)