An Aperol Spritz with an autumn twist is basically the cocktail equivalent of a puffy vest: It’s the perfect transition piece from summer to fall. So we tapped bartender Sofia Present of Brooklyn’s August Laura to give the go-to Italian drink a seasonal makeover with one simple addition—and, no, it’s not pumpkin spice.
Present, of the Italian-leaning bar in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood, takes our favorite warm weather drink from sidewalk café to fireside armchair simply by muddling sliced pear into a refreshing Aperol Spritz. “Since we’re located in a historically Italian American neighborhood, using an Italian amaro was a pretty on-the-nose inspiration,” Present says.
To take a seat at August Laura’s wooden bar or slide into the blue leather banquette lining the wall is to jet off to a world where a 4 p.m. cocktail is beyond permissible—if not encouraged. That place is otherwise known as Italy, where aperitivo culture is alive and well. Think of it as a uniquely Italian happy hour with friends gathering over snacks and low-octane drinks, like the effervescent spritz, a wine-based cocktail that typically features the bitter Italian liqueur Aperol.
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The idea of the spritz is more about the experience rather than a set list of ingredients—which is why you’ll see one made with Vergano Americano, an Italian vermouth, over at Wildair in New York. Head uptown from the popular wine bar, and you’ll find a version made with artichoke leaf-infused Cynar at the soon-to-open Cafe Americano.
It’s no surprise this is an in-demand order as the family tree of amari, bitter Italian liqueurs, makes its way to the forefront of the drink scene. This is in part because they’re low in alcohol (and thus high in drinkability), making it a breeze to have more than one or simply to start a meal. So even though you likely spent all summer sipping a spritz poolside, you don’t have to put the drink away with your bathing suit.
The days are only getting shorter, which means cocktail hour starts right about . . . now.
Pear Aperol Spritz
Recipe from Sofia Present, August Laura, Brooklyn, NY
Yield: 1 cocktail
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: N/A
Total Time: 10 minutes
4 pear slices, plus more for garnish
¾ ounce lemon juice
½ ounce simple syrup
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ounce Aperol
1½ ounces Prosecco or Champagne, chilled
½ ounce club soda, chilled
In a mixing glass, muddle the pear slices with the lemon juice, simple syrup and vanilla extract. Add the Aperol and ice, and stir until well chilled. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass and top with the Prosecco and soda. Garnish with pear slices and serve.
*This article was originally published on 10/12/2016 by Tasting Table editors. The restaurant, chef and/or recipe are in no way affiliated with or endorsing the featured sponsor.