Sometimes you need to drink something other than wine. While staying up in Bardolino alongside Italy’s beautiful Lake Garda I was captivated to see someone drinking a bright orange-gold coloured drink as an aperitif. I asked the owner of the lakeside trattoria what it was and he said ‘A Veneziana’ (A Venetian). As I was off to visit Venice for the first time the following day I was intrigued by this moment of serendipity and accepted the owner’s offer to try one.

It is a cocktail of sorts made from Aperol, Prosecco and soda water. Aperol is a bitter orange-based liqueur (also containing rhubarb and gentian) which is quite low in alcohol. I was delighted with my new find as it was light and refreshing with a sparkle, and with a lingering finish of bitter orange and orange peel.

Besides, it looked amazing, like a great ball of fire glittering in the sunlight.

When I got to Venice I found the locals called it a ‘spritz’ and it was one of the few drinks that didn’t cost an arm and a leg (this is a city where beer costs €6 for a small bottle in most bars and where I drank my most expensive mineral water ever at €20 for two glasses in St Mark’s Square).

Not only that, but in the heat and intensity of the city it was revitalising, lively and flavoursome. They also do a more alcoholic version using Campari instead of Aperol which is bright crimson and equally delicious.

© 2009 – 2012, Susan Hulme MW. All rights reserved.

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