Our continental cousins know how to do drinking right. Their bars are open late and yet vomit doesn’t fill the gutters. You can buy booze in McDonald’s, but it doesn’t come with a supersized serving of aggro. Perhaps it’s because their kids are raised to respect a drink. Or maybe it’s down to knowing precisely what to drink, when.
The spritz, now ascendant in Britain’s beer gardens, is a classic summer cocktail which, over here, we do a serious disservice. Rather than knock back six over an afternoon, it’s a drink designed for just before dinner, Northeast Italy’s way to put an edge on your appetite.
As an aperitif, the spritz is a suitably elegant concoction; a blend of bitter liqueur (on these shores, that normally means Aperol or Campari), with bubbles and soda water. It’s long and refreshing, enough to tickle the tastebuds, but not make you want to hurl furniture at passing Russians.
The notion of a palate-whetting drink supposedly originated in the 18th century Europe, as the café scene began to flourish alongside Italy’s bitter vermouths. Botanical, wine-based drinks became alla moda, paving the way for the sweeter, modern spritz we enjoy today.
“It’s the perfect drink to have with a cheese board and quince paste, or a dozen oysters,” says David Beatty, mixologist extraordinaire and Ketel One Vodka ambassador. And inspired by the menu at Georgian eatery Brunswick House, he set out to create a signature aperitif to titillate patron’s tongues, giving traditional English flavours an Italian twist.
“I wanted to riff on the classic spritz,” he says, “so I incorporated Riesling and soda water into the cocktail. The shrub introduces the lively, fresh tartness of the raspberries, and a light astringency which cleanses the palate for the next sip.” It’s also a doddle to make. The only tricky thing is sticking to just one.
Schiedam Spritz (Serves 2)
60ml Ketel One Vodka
30ml Spatlese Riesling
15ml homemade raspberry shrub
1 punnet fresh raspberries
400ml apple cider vinegar
200g caster sugar
Chilled Riesling glass
Lemon twist, to garnish
Tulip petals, to garnish
“Ketel One vodka has a rich and textured mouthfeel from the copper pot still it is created in. This gives great length and finish to the flavours in the cocktail. It also creates a lively tingle on the tongue – perfect for a spritz.
“Spatlese Riesling has wonderful apricot notes and a sweetness which work perfectly with the astringency of the raspberry shrub. You could also use an Auslese Riesling if you wanted to make a crisper, dryer spritz.”
- Start by making the raspberry shrub. Fill a one-litre mason jar with raspberries, then top up with the apple cider vinegar. Seal and store in a cool, dark place for three days.
- When ready, strain the liquid from the fruit (you can keep the berries to make a pureé) and place the liquid in a saucepan with the sugar. Bring to the boil, then gently simmer for 10 minutes until all the sugar is dissolved. Using a tea strainer, scoop out anything floating on the surface. Allow to cool, then keep in a sealable jar until you’re ready to use it.
- Add the cubed ice to your chilled riesling glass, then pour over the vodka, Riesling and raspberry shrub.
- With a cocktail stirrer, give the drink a quick stir, not so vigorous that you melt the ice cubes.
- Top up each glass with soda water, then garnish with the lemon zest and tulip petals.
From Delicious To Stratospheric
“Experiment with different wines and seasonal shrubs to make the drink perfect for your own palate. Also, I garnish the cocktail with a lemon twist, but you could bring some delicate and subtle variations with white grapefruit or orange.”