July 2012

Spritz the Sunset

By: Rachel Burkons

On a busy street corner, Via Alloro’s bustling patio is abuzz with conversation. It’s approaching happy hour, and customers chat cheerfully over bites of burrata and a variety of authentic, delicious carpaccios. We’re in the heart of swanky Beverly Hills, yet there’s an undeniable European feel here. If you tune out the Hollywood talk and focus solely on the several tables filled with happy diners speaking Italian, it’s easy to transport yourself to the sidewalk eateries of Florence or Rome.
Completing this virtual vacation is the restaurant’s signature cocktail, the simply chic Aperol Spritz. At the bar and on patio tables, the iconic, vibrantly-hued quaff stands out, instantly channeling the spirit of the sunset—no matter where you are in the world. With classic Italian style and a light, refreshing flavor, the Spritz has been instrumental in Aperol’s meteoric rise to the top, and the brand is now the fourth fastest-selling brand in the world.*
At Via Alloro in Beverly Hills, Armando Liuzzo demonstrates the three-two-one recipe of the Aperol Spritz.

“We are really excited about the growth of Aperol in the U.S. While it’s the fastest growing spirit in Italy and one of the top five globally, it’s really just caught on in the U.S. over the last 12 months.  Consumers are learning what bartenders and mixologists already know: that the Aperol Spritz is a fantastic cocktail,” says Tom Schlachtenhaufen, Vice President Sales for Aperol importer Palm Bay International.

Easy as 3-2-1

With its delightful balance of bitter herbs and rhubarb and enticingly sweet orange flavor, Aperol is certainly something special on its own. But in order to take this famously orange aperitif to the next level, the brand is focusing its efforts on its internationally-renowned cocktail, the Aperol Spritz. Stephanie Kubacki, Senior Director of Marketing for Palm Bay International says, “There is no other cocktail like it. It is vibrant, refreshing, and has a unique flavor that can’t be replicated by any other brand.”

Although the Spritz isn’t easy to knock off, it’s certainly simple to produce quickly and consistently, thanks in part its simple 3-2-1 recipe, which calls for three parts prosecco, two parts Aperol, one part soda and lots of ice. “It’s a very specific recipe, but it’s also very simple,” continues Kubacki. “It is very easy to make,” confirms Armando Liuzzo, Sommelier and General Manager at Via Alloro. “It’s simple to teach and quick to make, even when it’s busy. I can even make it with two hands!”

Armando Liuzzo on the back patio at Via Alloro.
A Social Sipper

Finding the perfect happy hour cocktail is no easy feat: You want something fun and delicious after a long day, but you also want to keep it light and low in alcohol to extend your social moments further into the evening. With these prerogatives in mind, the Aperol Spritz was made for happy hour—and for happy hour–friendly accounts.

At Vapiano in New York, the Aperol Spritz is the star of the sunset hour. “We’re pushing the Aperol Spritz as the happy hour cocktail,” says General Manager Tim Powell. “We’re seeing a great response and working to educate the guest about the drink, and it’s catching on across the city. I was on the rooftop at The Standard last night, and they were serving them there, too. It’s not limited to Italian restaurants, and is very hip.”

From the chic rooftops of New York to the glamorous seaside patios in Miami, the Aperol Spritz is a cocktail that goes hand-in-hand with summertime outdoor enjoyment. However, no matter where you are, the simple refreshment the Aperol Spritz offers is enough to get anyone social— indoors or out. And with its vibrant, romantic sunset-orange hue, we’d venture to guess that the Aperol Spritz is sunset in a glass, and could light even the darkest room with its flair for fun.

Beverage Director Michael Christiani.
In the Loop with Aperol

In the heart of Chciago’s Loop, Epic Restaurant is king of the happy hour. The Windy City is known for making the most of the lovely weather while it can (rooftop happy hours aren’t as fun in January), so it’s no surprise that Aperol is a star in this city that loves to socialize.

As the sun sets behind the skyline, Chicagoans gather on the lounge-like rooftop that’s made Epic a popular post-work watering hole. “The Aperol Spritz is perfect for a rooftop venue like ours,” explains Beverage Director Michael Chrsitiani. “Everybody comes here right after work, and it’s still early, so a refreshing Aperol Spritz is just perfect.”

While the Spritz is the reigning champion here, Christiani loves to explore Aperol in other cocktails as well, and testifies to the brand’s general mixability. “I love playing with Aperol and seeing what I can come up with,” he admits.

At Vapiano NYC, bartender Lean Jahns makes an Aperol Spritz.
Apertif Hour in NYC

With 102 locations worldwide, Vapiano is a truly cosmopolitan eatery, and here, the Aperol Spritz is in its Italian element. “The Aperol Spritz is a lifestyle,” explains Tim Powell, General Manager at Vapiano NYC. “It’s all about that Italian sense of fun, vibrant living, and that translates really well to what we’re doing here.”

With a lounge with windows that open up to bring the outside in, Powell says that the Aperol Spritz has truly ignited here, grabbing the happy hour spotlight away from other cocktails, like the Cosmopolitan. “For 15 years, that whole Sex in the City thing made vodka and Cosmos cool, but that’s evolving,” he explains. “People are smarter and more educated in their spirit selections, and understand what an aperitif is. The Aperol Spritz is definitely hip and unique.”

Hotspot Vapiano NYC displays a wall of Aperol to entice guests.
Picking up on the Spritz’s momentum, Vapiano hosts weekly socials that feature the cocktail, and Powell reports that the drink’s signature orange hue creates a case of monkey-see-monkey-do. “When guests see that beautiful cocktail in a wine glass go by, and they see others drinking it, they want to try it. People always want to know what that pretty drink is!”

The Italian Way

Sicilian-born Armando Liuzzo is a clear fan of the Spritz: “I love it! I have been drinking it my whole life. Everybody drinks an Aperol Spritz as an aperitivo in Sicily!” But this Italian sensation has caught fire in Beverly Hills as well, and Liuzzo explains that it’s not hard to understand why: “This is the perfect happy hour cocktail,” he says. “It is one of our most popular drinks because it is so light, refreshing and balanced. It’s wonderful.”

Although the cocktail is a clear winner before the sun goes down, Liuzzo explains that it’s versatile enough to be an any-time, any-food kind of drink. “I think Aperol goes with anything, and that’s how we drink it in Italy! People love it, and it’s a great drink. They can have fun with it, and that’s why they order it.” 

*Shanken’s Impact Newsletter, February 1 & 15, 2012

Aperol Spritz...the Perfect Pour

The Aperol Spritz is a deliciously simple cocktail to make:

3 parts Prosecco
2 parts Aperol
1 splash of soda water

Garnish with a slice of orange, and serve in a balloon glass or a tumbler with lots of ice. 

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