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An Aperol Spritz Defender Makes His Case


It's after 5:00 on Mother's Day, so time for a cocktail, am I right? As long as it's not the - gasp - Aperol spritz. What's so terrible about the eye-catching bright orange beverage that seems to be all over Instagram these days? Just ask Rebekah Peppler. Her latest article for The New York Times was a delicious takedown of the beverage titled "The Aperol Spritz Is Not A Good Drink."

REBEKAH PEPPLER: Served in branded jumbo wine glasses, the sugary aperitif is paired with low-quality Prosecco, soda water and an outsized orange slice, resulting in something that drinks like a Capri Sun after soccer practice on a hot day, not in a good way.

MARTIN: Ow. Well, as you might have heard by now, this article stirred up some strong feelings among fans of the Aperol spritz. And since it's fun to keep a meaningless controversy going, we called a defender of the drink, Nick Farrell. He is the spirits manager for several restaurants here in the Washington, D.C., area that have spritz's on the bar menu. So we figured he'd have an opinion about all this. Nick Farrell, thank you so much for joining us.

NICK FARRELL: Of course. It's great to be here.

MARTIN: So could you just give me the basic tutorial? What's Aperol?

FARRELL: So Aperol is a bittersweet aperitivo from Italy, but it's part of a larger class of aperitivos.

MARTIN: OK, and so an Aperol spritz?

FARRELL: An Aperol spritz is a aperitif cocktail with two ounces of Aperol, three ounces of Prosecco and one ounce of club soda.

MARTIN: OK. So we called Rebekah Peppler this week to kin of, dig into the root of her complaint against the Aperol spritz - because it doesn't sound so terrible to me - and one of her issues has to do with the aggressive marketing campaign that Aperol has been using in recent years. And this is what she had to say.

PEPPLER: It's this, like, glowing, forever summer, endless tan-lines, like, just crushes everywhere. And then you're drinking this one specific drink that to me is overly sweet and usually poorly made and could just be so much better so easily.

MARTIN: All right, Nick - truth time. What about it? Does she have a point?

FARRELL: She definitely has somewhat of a point here in that I don't think people focus enough on the other ingredients in the Aperol spritz. So when you're choosing your Prosecco, you can get it brut, extra dry or dry. Now that can be confusing because brut is actually the driest, and dry is the sweetest. So depending on what you choose, your spritz is going to taste vastly different.

As far as Aperol goes, it's a matter of personal taste. So just as Coke isn't the only cola, Aperol isn't the only choice for a good spritz.

MARTIN: So you've made a couple of drinks here, and so can I assume that the one on the left there with the big giant orange slice in it...


MARTIN: ...Which looks kind of like fruit punch is our Aperol spritz?

FARRELL: That is our Aperol spritz.

MARTIN: I mean, it's pretty. I mean, come on. But for people who are haters, is there an alternative that can kin of, clear the high bar of being relatively low alcohol, it can be refreshing and, you know, let's be real about it - Instagram-able?


MARTIN: We're not doing very much with our little plastic cups here, I'll just say (laughter).

FARRELL: No, no.

MARTIN: We're not really - we're not doing very much for the cause with our little plastic cups, but we're doing the best we can here in the studio, so...

FARRELL: But this is radio. So we can pretend they're beautiful glasses, right?

MARTIN: OK, thank you.

FARRELL: So there are certainly other options. And next to the Aperol spritz, I made a spritz with Amaro Montenegro. Amaros are typically a more bitter than Aperol, but that little extra bit of bitterness is going to make it more refreshing for some people.

MARTIN: So is the bitter - is the little bit of bitterness is what makes it kind of not a Capri Sun? I mean, I'm a fan of Capri Sun. I'm just going to be honest. That is my life right now. But is it just the little bit of the bitterness that - along with the alcohol - that kind of makes it a kind of a complex...


MARTIN: ...Flavor, right?

FARRELL: Yes. Yes, absolutely.

MARTIN: And what about this other one? There's something over here that looks kind of like - I don't know what it looks like. It looks like lemonade with some mint in it. I'm not sure...

FARRELL: So this is actually - we put together a non-alcoholic spritz here.

MARTIN: Oh, I'm glad you did...


MARTIN: ...Because there are a lot of people who don't drink alcohol...

FARRELL: Exactly.

MARTIN: ...For whatever reason, either for reasons of religion or for reasons of health.


MARTIN: What's a good idea there?

FARRELL: This is some orange peel to mimic Aperol or Amaro Montenegro's bitterness because that's where they get some of their bitterness from, some sorrel, which adds, like, a nice herbaceous, sour note to it, kind of like a sour strawberry.

MARTIN: Sorrel.


MARTIN: See, now you're just showing off. OK, go ahead.

FARRELL: Some pineapple syrup, lime and the mint that you see there.

MARTIN: All right. That's delicious. Well, Nick will you join me in a toast since it's Mother's Day?

FARRELL: Of course, yeah.

MARTIN: OK, that's Nick Farrell. He's a spirits manager. He's a defender of the spritz. And Nick is going to join us in a toast to all the moms, the foster moms, the adoptive moms, the grandmas, those who step in for the moms.

FARRELL: Indeed. And can I say my mom, too, who might been listening?

MARTIN: Absolutely.

FARRELL: Wonderful.

MARTIN: All right. cheers.

FARRELL: Cheers.

MARTIN: Cheers. This is delicious.

FARRELL: Glad you like it.

MARTIN: Yeah. Sorrel, though, come on. At least it wasn't kale.

FARRELL: (Laughter). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.