Have you ever stopped to wonder who started the #SpritzLife? From Ancient Greek philosophers to 20th century Italians, learn a few buzzworthy facts about how this sparkling cocktail got its start—which we picked up from author Talia Baiocchi's authoritative guide to Spritz.
The Ancient Greeks believed that only Dionysus was strong enough to drink wine straight. That means all your favorite philosphers—Plato, Socrates, Aristotle—were adding a splash of water to wine long before the invention of the Italian spritz.
By the early 1900s, soda water was popular enough that it appeared in such cocktails as the Americano (campari + soda) and the spritz bianco (white wine + soda). Within a few decades, the combination of bitter liqueur, wine and soda gave birth to what we know as the modern spritz.
The German word spritzen (to spray) is the most likely source. Northeastern Italy—where the spritz was born—was occupied by Austro-Hungarian troops in 19th century, as well as Austrian troops during World War I. Legend has it that these foreigners preferred their Italian wine with a splash of water—similar to the Ancient Greeks.When Prosecco gained popularity in the 1970s-80s, the bubbly wine gave a boost to the spritz’s appeal at cafes and beach bars near Venice—and the trend spread from there.
The Aperol Spritz is by far the best-known spritz recipe, thanks to an iconic 1990s campaign by the namesake brand. Beyond Aperol specifically, this marketing strategy helped secure the popularity of the spritz as the official cocktail of Italy.