Last year, the Aperol Spritz earned the "drink of summer" title, and its popularity is sticking around. The beverage, with its distinct deep-orange hue, can now be spotted on menus across America. But have you ever stopped to wonder what exactly Aperol, the most key ingredient in the drink, is?
To get a more clear understanding of Aperol's history, how it's made, and what alcohol category it falls into, we talked to Anne Louise Marquis, national portfolio brand ambassador at Campari America, the company that owns Aperol. Ahead, we break down everything you need to know about your favorites summer spritz's namesake.
What is an aperitif?
If you've ever spent time in a European cafe, you're probably familiar with the idea of sipping what's called an "aperitif" before your meal. According to Marquis, more than simply tasting good and being refreshing, aperitifs actually act as a stimulant for the appetite. All sorts of different fortified wines, liqueurs, and alcohols, including Aperol, fall into the aperitif arena. "It is not necessarily a type of alcohol but more of a category of drinks that are best enjoyed before a meal," Marquis explains.
What is Aperol made from?
Though Aperol is one of many different drinks included in the aperitif category, it stands apart thanks to its main ingredients. Marquis tells Refinery29 that Aperol is made according to a secret recipe that hasn't changed since the drink's 1919 inception. Though she could not disclose the exact recipe, she did share that the key ingredients include bitter and sweet oranges, rhubarb, and many different herbs and roots.
When was Aperol first introduced?
The internet may have begun debating Aperol's merits this summer, but drinkers have been enthusiastically enjoying the beverage for 100 years. It was first created by two brothers named Luigi and Silvio Barbieri, and according to Marquis, they spent seven years in research and development. Once the product was up to their standards, the Barbieri brothers presented it for the first time at a trade fair in Padua, Italy.
How and when is Aperol best enjoyed?
As it's an aperitif, Aperol is traditionally consumed before meals, but these days, the folks at Campari American say it's an ideal drink any time of day thanks to its low alcohol content of 11%. It turns out, too, that there's a reason Aperol Spritzes are so popular. Marquis revealed that this drink is the absolute best way to enjoy Aperol. "We like to say that the Aperol Spritz is best enjoyed when the sun is out — from brunch to happy hour — it's the perfect daytime drink," Marquis says. "The Aperol Spritz is easily made by mixing Aperol with Prosecco and a splash of soda in a wine glass full of ice and a slice of orange."