The beauty of the Aperol Spritz is its simplicity, both to make and to drink. Sure, the drink has some detractors, but it has plenty of supporters, too. Besides, there’s more than one way to spritz. Whether or not you love the taste of Aperol, the bright-orange Italian liqueur doesn’t need to be the only thing you’re drinking this summer.
When it comes to making any spritz, stick to a general formula of three parts fizzy wine, two parts low(ish)-ABV spirit/liqueur, and a splash of bubbly water. Using like-for-like substitutions, and a dose of creative license, here are our six favorite alternatives to the Aperol Spritz.
Located in Asti, Contratto is a historic Italian winery with serious pedigree. Back in 1919, it produced the nation’s first vintage sparkling wine. Since 1935, the brand has also made an Aperol-adjacent aperitivo, blending 28 botanicals with Italian brandy. When mixed with Prosecco, it pours an attractive sunset orange and fills the glass with notes of blood orange and lemon peel.
This Venetian aperitivo has followed the same recipe since 1920, combining 30 botanicals to provide a rich, complex flavor. A bitter note arrives courtesy of rhubarb, while juniper adds a fresh, piney undertone. It’s full of fresh flowers and herbs on the palate, and delivers a lasting pink grapefruit finish. At 17.5-percent ABV, it’s slightly stronger than Aperol but still works well in a classic three-two-one mix. For an authentic Venetian garnish, swap in a green olive for the orange slice.
In addition to its iconic cocktail cherries and straw-covered bottles of Maraschino liqueur, Luxardo makes the closest like-for-like Aperol alternative. Like Pepsi to Aperol’s Coke, this liqueur serves a familiar, refreshing spritz, with Orange Sunkist aromas and bittersweet grapefruit and orange flavors that are slightly less sweet than Aperol. It’s not as nuanced as some of the other options on this list, but, at 11 percent ABV, it’s endlessly crushable.
Made with Trebbiano wine as its base, this aperitivo has a juicy, fruity character. At 17 percent ABV, Cappelletti punches a boozy kick somewhere between Aperol and Campari, but you can keep things in check by adding an extra half-pour of soda water. Like the classic Aperol Spritz, garnishing with a few slices of fruit brings the drink to life — we recommend lemon or lime.
Admittedly, Galliano’s L’Aperitivo is closer to Campari than Aperol in both its flavor and ABV content, but we’re including it here for the interesting, nuanced spritz it offers, which is perfect for those who enjoy their drinks with a bitter kick. The complexity arrives from a blend of more than 30 botanicals. When poured in a spritz, it’s herbaceous on the nose and delivers bergamot, grapefruit, and Maraschino cherries on the palate. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and a lime wedge.
Lillet is French, not Italian, and the fortified, flavored wine doesn’t reach the bitter or sweet heights of Aperol. That said, Lillet Blanc, Rosé, and Rouge each provide a delicious, versatile spritz. The blanc is typified by white flowers and grape notes, while the rosé is fruitier, with peach and honey aromas and flavors of orange and stone fruit. When opting for Lillet Rouge, double down on the strawberry preserve notes with a berry garnish.