Light, bright, and sparkling, it’s the classic drink of the summer we all know and love: the spritz. You may think first of the Aperol spritz, the summertime staple with the bright orange hue and sharp citrusy flavor.
But Aperol is hardly the be-all and end-all of spritzes. In fact, it’s just one option in a diverse genre of cocktails.
Spritzes typically combine an aperitif — a dry, low-proof alcohol that often tastes herbal and botanical — with sparkling wine or club soda to make for a light cocktail with complex flavors. Bartenders and mixologists experiment by mixing in garnishes, flavored syrups, or additional liqueurs to further make a spritz their own. Depending on the spirits and mix-ins used, a spritz can range from a dry, almost bitter cocktail to something sweet and fruity.
To truly appreciate the power and versatility of the spritz, head to one of these seven Northern Virginia restaurants or cocktail bars to try one (or two).
Aperol Spritz at Vino Bistro
Before you get too fancy, take a moment to appreciate the original. It’s crisp, refreshing, and slightly bitter from the Aperol, making for a delightfully summery drink that’s not too sweet. Try it at Vino Bistro for a no-fuss classic, made even brighter with the inclusion of orange juice and lemon. $11, 1605 Village Market Blvd. NE, Ste. 100, Leesburg
Frozen Aperol Spritz at The People’s Drug
Now, have some fun with it. Head to The People’s Drug in Alexandria to get its frozen Aperol spritz. With low ABV Aperol, cava, and orange, it’s all the same flavors as the standard version but frozen into a slush for a more adventurous take. $13, 103 N. Alfred St., Alexandria
Grapefruit Rose Spritz at Wilson Hardware
Wilson Hardware’s rooftop bar sets the perfect scene for a pretty, floral drink like this. It starts with a grapefruit and rose spirit from Ketel One, with elderflower liqueur and rose syrup to make it lightly sweet and botanical. And, of course, you can’t forget the prosecco to finish. $14, 2915 Wilson Blvd., Arlington
Chinola Spritz at the Colada Shop
If you’re not as into botanical flavors, try a version that uses a sweet tropical fruit as its main flavor. The Chinola Spritz at the Colada Shop uses passionfruit liqueur, with a simple mixture of prosecco and club soda. Get it as a regular cocktail or in a cocktail pouch. $12–$15, 2920 District Ave., Ste. 180, Fairfax
Rosé Spritz at The Salt Line
Head to the Salt Line in Ballston for this must-try spritz. It incorporates Lillet rosé, vodka, and elderflower liqueur. The standout element is the soda — rather than plain soda water or a sparkling wine, it’s topped off with a housemade lemon-berry soda. $13, 4040 Wilson Blvd., Arlington
Blossom Spritz at Parc de Ville
Where better to enjoy a spritz than a rooftop bar? While you sit in the sunshine at the Mosaic District’s Parc de Ville, sip on this fresh, elegant drink. It’s a combination of Ketel One’s peach and orange blossom botanical spirit and Ramazzotti Aperitivo Rosato, a fruity-floral liqueur with notes of orange blossom and hibiscus, all topped off with soda water. $15, 8296 Glass Alley Ste. 110, Fairfax
Elderflower Dreams at Sfoglina Pasta House
With three options for 22-ounce spritzes, Sfoglina is a great go-to spot for a spritz. Cocchi Americano, a complex and bitter aperitif, is the star of the elderflower version. It’s complemented by elderflower liqueur (hence the name) and orange, then finished with both soda and prosecco. $20, 1100 Wilson Blvd., Arlington
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