No drink so readily evokes the carefree, al fresco everything feeling of summer like the spritz. The traditional Italian cocktail is bitter and bubbly, with just enough sweet and tart flavors for balance, best served over ice in a balloon glass so big it goes past absurd into downright glamorous. Those who don't want to drink alcohol don't have to be left out of la dolce vita either, since there are plenty of options available for a zero proof spritz, from the classic Aperol or Campari flavor profile to more unusual combinations of fruits, herbs, spices, and, of course, bitters.
To make a spritz, the traditional ratio is two parts bitter aperitif, three parts sparkling white wine, and one part sparkling water, in that order. You want to make sure that the aperitif goes in first in order to preserve the bubbles. A spritz is built in the glass over ice, so you won't need any fancy barware — you don't even need to stir it.
Once you've learned the basics of spritz making, you can modify the ratio of non-alcoholic spirits, sparkling wine alternatives, and seltzer water to your taste and get adventurous with your ingredients. Try mixing reverse spritzes with bitter sodas like Sanbitter, Chinotto, and the offerings from Casamara Club and Bettera. Use flavored seltzers to add additional complexity or replace the need for sparkling wine altogether. Swap out the non-alcoholic prosecco for sparkling rosé or red wine alternatives, kombucha, or fruit forward bubblies like Non.
If you want: a classic spritz, no alcohol involved
Traditionalists looking for non-alcoholic aperitifs to use for the base of their spritz should use Lyre's Italian Spritz for a pitch perfect imitation of bittersweet, candied orange colored Aperol, or AperTease by Sexy AF Spirits as a stand-in for Campari's pithy pomegranate punch. For a slightly unusual option that has the candy apple red hue of Campari with a bitter orange flavor closer to Aperol, but with a blast of cooling clove, Willford's Aperitif has wonderful mouthfeel and holds its own when mixed with sparkling non-alcoholic wine and seltzer water.
For these spirits, you'll want to use a relatively dry non-alcoholic sparkling white to balance their intense sweetness. I suggest a crisp and acidic option like Fre, ISH Sparkling, or Lyre's Classico to balance Italian Spritz or AperTease, while the buttery, shortbread notes of No & Low Sparkling Chardonnay pair beautifully with the clove in Willford's. In a pinch you can skip the n/a sparkling wine and go straight to bubbly water.
Either seltzer water, club soda, or a sparkling mineral water will work. Just make sure it (and the wine alternative) are ice cold, to keep your bubbles from evaporating too quickly. No one loves a flat spritz!
If you want: a refreshing non-alcoholic twist on a spritz
While the "original" aperitivo spritzes are great, there's no reason to stop there. Roots Divino's red and white de-alcoholized vermouths are both great, complex foundations for spritz experimentation. For a pleasantly tart spritz with notes of fresh raspberry and aromatics including jammy rose, earthy gentian, and biting wormwood, blend equal parts Roots Divino Aperitif Rosso, Something & Nothing Rose & Hibiscus seltzer, and No & Low Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Chardonnay.
Roots Divino Bianco, with its candied rosemary and wild thyme flavors that boost the lemon juice note in Fre White Sparkling Wine, play beautifully with the soft, round flavor of Something & Nothing Cucumber Seltzer. In the traditional ratio of two parts aperitif, three parts sparkling wine, and one part seltzer, it's as fresh as plunging head first into the Mediterranean on a hot day.
For a reverse spritz with traditional Italian aperitif flavors, blend 2 parts of the botanical distillate Wilderton Lustre with 3 parts good quality chinotto soda like Lusitania or San Pelligrino and a splash of Chateau del ISH Sparkling White for extra long lasting bubbles. Lustre's bright, sweet orange and cool tarragon lighten the deep, dark bitter orange and heavy caramel of chinotto, while Chateau del ISH balances with dry, long-lasting bubbles and a hint of ripe peach in this very easy-to-drink combo.
Negroni lovers will enjoy a spritz that's an exquisite blend of dark red fruits and bitter herbs and spices: rich, concentrated pomegranate and goji flavors from Melati, a non-alcoholic, herbal apéritif, meet a bushel of assorted red and dark berries from the non-alcoholic rosé style Sparkling Jukes 8, and a hint of juniper and gentian flavors from the cocktail-inspired Casamara Club Alta for a gorgeous magenta hued refresher that's as pretty to look at as it is to drink.
If you want: something less sweet, more herbal
While the traditional spritz gets its bitterness from the spirit base, bitter sodas work just as well to add the right balance to sweet or tart non-alcoholic spirits, making a "reverse" spritz. I especially love to combine a bitter soda with adaptogenic extractions, like those made by Solbrü, to give a boost of adaptogenic benefits to my beverage.
If you're not into sweet drinks, I highly recommend a base of one part Solbrü Elevate, with cooling herbs like holy basil, peppermint, rosemary, and lemon verbena, and energy boosting cordyceps, topped with three parts Non #5: Lemon Marmalade & Hibiscus, and a splash of Betera Rhubarb and Hibiscus for a dry, crisp, slightly vegetal option that will please fans of Spanish style G&Ts.
For something a bit fruitier, try two parts Solbrü Inspire with three parts Lyre's Classico sparkling wine alternative and two parts Casamara Club Onda. Inspire's sweet, honey crisp apple notes, along with inflammation fighting lion's mane, late summer lavender, and soothing chamomile blend beautifully with the sour green apple of Lyre's Classico, and the bright lemon and earthy, early autumn sage of Casamara Club Onda, bringing together a lush orchard of flavors you'll enjoy well into September.
Gnista Floral Wormwood is another lovely summer spritz ingredient, and I love two parts of the sprightly bitter spirit with two parts of Chateau del ISH Sparkling Rose, and a big 3 part glug of grapefruit-forward Casamara Club Sera. The resulting combination is floral and bright, and tastes unexpectedly like a cross between a hefeweizen and an IPA.
If you want: an easy, unfussy, super-portable spritz
Minimalists, rejoice! Thanks to some of the more complex non-alcoholic spirits and wine alternatives, as well as some good quality premixed non-alcoholic spritzes, you now have the option to pare down to just one or two essentials for summer sipping.
Jukes Cordialities' ready-to-drink Jukes Sparkling 1 and Casamara Club Como marry citrus and herbal flavors into the platonic ideal of a white wine spritzer: refreshing, light, big on bubbles, and easy on both bitter and sweet. Top one part Pentire Adrift's green and bitter samphire and sharp sea salt, with three parts Something & Nothing's sunshine-in-a-can Yuzu Seltzer, for a perfect day at the beach in a glass. Transport yourself to a picnic in the cool shade of a Pacific Northwest forest with my absolute favorite alternative spritz: pour three or four parts Grüvi Bubbly Rosé, with its intense strawberry flavor, over one part of the bracing, Douglas fir forward, hemp infused spirit The Pathfinder for an unexpected but uniquely delicious combination. And for an easier-to-make version of the original orange summer spritz, just add seltzer water to For Bitter For Worse's Eva's Spritz (and even that is too much work, they now have cans of pre-mixed Eva's, too!).
When nothing but ready-to-drink will do, both ISH and Lyre's have lovely single serving, zero-proof canned spritzes you can throw in a cooler for the beach, a bike ride, or a picnic. SpritzISH is half way between an Aperol and a Campari spritz in flavor, and, in my opinion, tastes better than either one, with a more natural tasting blend of sweet and bitter oranges than the former's strangely artificial peach candy flavor, and a touch of the astringent-but-juicy pomegranate I love from the latter, without its overwhelming bitterness. Lyre's Amalfi Spritz is the ready-to-drink version of their Italian Spritz non-alcoholic spirit and Classico Grande prosecco alternative.
The simple spritz is a platform that invites playfulness, so while I stand behind these flavor combinations, feel free to experiment with other zero-proof spirits, non-alcoholic sparkling wines, exotic sodas, and flavored seltzers to make your own signature spritz this summer! What big, bubbly drinks are you mixing up this season?