Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Drink By Any Other Name

Last night, on the way to an intimate dinner in a small restaurant in Venice, I took my bipedal and god-bipedal attendants to a trattoria off San Marco's Square for a quick aperitif. After all, how can any refined person - let alone a bear of distinction - dine without preparing his or her stomach for its impending gastronomic treat?

And of course, the aperitif of choice - the aperitivo preferito - in Italy is the "spritz". Or spreeeeeeeeeeeessss as it's said here. It's generally agreed that the bright orange drink was created in Venice - a happy product of Venice's bygone days when it was part of the wine spritzer-drinking Austrian Empire. And one day, the Austrian spritz (or shpritz) magically became the Venetian spritz (or spreeeeeeeeeeeessss).

And although everyone agrees that props go to Venice for the drink's creation, there seems to be little agreement on how to make one. Let me illustrate:

How to Make a Spritz (or Spreeeeeeeeeeeessss)

... to make a Venetian spritz (or spreeeeeeeeeeeessss) you combine white wine and fizzy water or proseco and fizzy water, or just proseco and either Aperol or Campari. I prefer my spritz (or spreeeeeeeeeeeessss) with Aperol (a pretty orange-red Italian aperitif made from bitter oranges, the gentian flower, rhubarb and the cinchona shrub) and proseco (a dry sparkling Italian wine like Spanish cava). Add ice and a slice of orange and you have a spritz (or spreeeeeeeeeeeessss).

And once the spritz (or spreeeeeeeeeeeessss) became popular outside of Venice, local variations started popping up. In Trieste, the spritz (or spreeeeeeeeeeeessss) is served in the traditional Austrian fashion with white and water and no pretty orange colouring, while in Florence, they prepare it with Martini Rosso vermouth (- vermouth, can you imagine?). I'm no mathematician - bears generally excel in the humanities not the sciences - but that makes for a lot of combinations.

At least everyone seems to agree on the orange slice.

Apparently the spritz (or spreeeeeeeeeeeessss) has recently conquered the United States: any place from New York to Los Angeles with pretensions to grandeur serve a spritz (or spreeeeeeeeeeeessss). I confess that I do like a good spritz (or spreeeeeeeeeeeessss) although I'm not a huge fan of all the hype surrounding the drink - I mean it's not a nice dry sherry or manzanilla - but they are awfully nice. And I do appreciate the fact that my instructions above were pretty confusing and contradictory (this is Italy after all), but if you want to make one - and by one I mean one variation - you can click here for a very instructive video.

You're welcome - and salute!


Anonymous said...

Hi Grey Bear
I am concerned that your bipedal attendants are turning you into an alcoholic.
The next time you are visiting an area keep a tight rein on them and just visit the Churches and Museums and open bazaars etc.
It is okay to try the local food though.

Grey Bear said...

Thanks Anon,
I have had similar concerns but luckily bears can easily handle their liquor. We have a special type of metabolism. I can't tell you how many times I've had to drive my bipedal attendants home after a night "out" - and I might add that I can barely (!) reach the pedals of the car so I usually have to spring for a cab.

The Spelunkers said...

My favorite part of Spirit Bear is when she sticks her gum on his nose. So romantic.