My obsession with the Aperol Spritz began a few years ago when the bubbly, slightly bitter aperitif that's served basically everywhere in Italy started popping up at bars and restaurants stateside. Then, two winters ago, I developed an even closer bond with the refreshing, low-alcohol sipper on a cruise to Antarctica. Most evenings, I would make my way to the observation deck, order a spritz and a small bowl of potato chips, and watch the glaciers float by.
But it was last month, when I traveled to Copenhagen, that my love affair hit an all-time high. There, they have a slightly different riff on the Italian classic — and I think it's pretty ingenious.
During my long weekend in Copenhagen, the weather was so perfect it was difficult for me to even imagine the city being dreary and dark (as it is, I'm told, for much of the year). Everyone was out and about with their bicycles and their beautiful babies in massive trams. They went swimming in the harbor and spread blankets out for leisurely picnics in the parks. At night, they ate and drank on patios and waterside terraces, wrapping themselves in blankets when the temperatures dropped.
It was easy to believe that everything is better in Scandinavia. And that much is at least true for their version of the Aperol Spritz, which uses apple cider in place of sparkling wine. I'm talking about hard cider — not the fresh-pressed stuff you buy by the gallon at U-Pick-Em orchards. It turns out the dry, slightly effervescent fruit-based beverage is the perfect complement to Aperol.
I drank many different versions of the Scandinavian Spritz (that's what I'm calling it, at least), including the one pictured above at Almanak, but my favorite was the "Brus" at Fiskebar, a seafood-centric spot in the trendy meatpacking district.
I called the bartender to get that recipe, which turns out to be quite complicated. — it calls for an all-natural cider from France (made using only wild apples, bien sur) and a couple other special ingredients including Rondo, an Italian aperitif made from rhubarb and berries. But if you're looking to recreate the drink at home, you don't need to get fancy — just swap out the sparkling wine for cider and you're set.
Get the Recipe: Aperol Spritz (sub hard cider for sparkling wine!)
Here are a few ciders to get you started.