How To Say Cheers In Venice

The famous lion of Venice

Venice is paradise for those who love a good cocktail, and why? The obvious reason is that no matter how tipsy you might get, there is never, ever the danger of driving while intoxicated because simply put, there are no cars – and chances are you are more likely to be riding a gondola than steering one yourself.

But also, Venice is home to some signature cocktails, the principal pair which I will presently describe. The first is called the Aperol Spritz, or just the Spritz, and the key ingredient is a lovely orange-colored Italian aperitif called Aperol. Its secret recipe includes bitter and sweet oranges along with a proprietary mix of herbs and root essences. The alcohol content is a gentle 11 percent.

What you need in terms of ingredients to make your Spritz sing is 3 parts Prosecco, 2 parts Aperol, one splash of soda water, a few ice cubes and half a slice of orange. For a demonstration of how it’s done right, check out the website for some handy tips.

But what you need in terms of geographic ingredients is a suitably serene setting in which to savor your Spritz – and just about anywhere in Venice will do. When the sun’s out, nothing beats savoring your glistening orange Venetian libation at a café terrace on the Zattere, Venice’s “other” promenade which is in Dorsoduro, facing the broad Canale della Giudecca. In cooler weather, repair to any of countless Venetian osterie or pint-sized wine bars and they’ll be happy to whip one up for you in no time. (And be sure to ask simply for “a spritz,” as the Aperol is implied.)

Enjoy a delicious Aperol Spritz

As delicious as the Spritz is, it has some competition in the form of Venice’s other signature cocktail: the Bellini. This one is a bit more upscale, not just in flavor but in its genesis. It was created by Giuseppe Cipriani, the founder of the famous Harry’s Bar in Venice. A Bellini is basically a pairing of white peach purée and Prosecco. This velvety cocktail has a more feminine touch than the sweet but surprisingly assertive Spritz. Its orangey tint helps qualify it as a Venetian cousin of it. However, on a recent stay in Venice, I decided to track down the elusive pink Bellini. I did not seek it at Harry’s Bar, which is in San Marco, but had to take a private boat across the lagoon to the equally legendary Hotel Cipriani.

There, sitting by the famous Cipriani pool where George Clooney once fell in with all his clothes on, the dapper barman brought out two Bellinis on a silver tray, one for me, and one for my father. Definitely more rosy-colored than orange! I half-expected my Dad to say, “That’s too pink to drink,” but he was easily won over by the subtle notes of fresh peach nectar and fine Italian Prosecco. I wanted to know if they used a hint of raspberry or cherry to give it that distinctive glimmer of pink, but I dared not ask the Cipriani barman. After all, Venice wouldn’t be Venice without a bit of mystery, would it? Cheers




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