The spritz is a highly flexible, summer-ready cocktail style. If you’ve ever heard of (and love, or hate) the Aperol spritz, you know the basic template: an Italian apéritif, sparkling wine, club soda, and an orange slice garnish.
There are many variations on this classic Italian cocktail, but the template is generally simple and enjoyable. Yes, it’s easy drinking—often lower ABV and always landing lighter on the palate—but a lot of the spritzes we found around New Jersey are layered, intriguing drinks. Bartenders seem to like using the drink’s structure and bubbly texture to showcase different aromatics and flavors, such as rose, grapefruit, warm baking spices, juniper, sun-dried herbs, blueberry skin, toffee and raisin, or watermelon. The fact that it looks great in your hand on a restaurant patio or pool chair, well, that’s just a bonus.
Here are five ways to get your spritz on this summer in the Garden State.
If you want a hint of summer without departing too far from the standard Aperol spritz style, Harvest in Moorestown is making it really, really easy for you. Their Aperol watermelon spritzer is exactly that: Aperol, fresh watermelon, orange bitters, and soda to finish. The standard Aperol spritz, FYI, would have prosecco in addition to soda water, but at least here it’s only the latter—meaning this drink is much lower in alcohol (Aperol itself is just 11% ABV), making it a very eligible apéritif. Harvest Seasonal Grill, 400 West Route 38, Moorestown; 856-581-0044
Bubbly Garden Party
The Nona’s Backyard Spritz at the Farm and the Fisherman in Cherry Hill might sound like a relatively rustic concoction (most of what we drink in a backyard involves powdered lemonade) but the drink is generously layered with flavor: the juniper, spice and botanicals of Rowhouse Gin, rich, sweet rose petal florals in sweet Italian Rosolio Italicus, and yet more florals from the Jersey-based Bellview Dandelion Wine. The spritz factor comes courtesy of prosecco, cutting into all that lush floral and herbal notes like a wise, but feisty, gardener. The Farm and the Fisherman, 1442 Marlton Pike East, Cherry Hill; 856-356-2282
You can always count on the folks at Reyla to create a ridiculously intricate spin on classic drink styles and make it look easy, and their seasonal spritz is no exception. The Resting Booch Face has its wine component in Lustau vermouth (a Sherry-based vermouth with flavors from toffee to raisins and sun-dried herbs), bitterness from the Bonal Gentiane Quina (a French apéritif wine), and that all-important spritziness from none other than health-foodie-favorite, kombucha. In this case it’s Jersey’s own Fine Health Blueberry Swirl Kombucha, with its notes of dark, fleshy blueberry skin floating on top of tangy, ‘boochy bubbles. Reyla, 603 Mattison Avenue, Asbury Park; 732-455-8333
It’s not labeled a spritz, but the Mother of Pearl at the Stingray Lounge in Jersey City basically fits the bill—not that “basic” applies here. Even the gin is unique—Botanist comes from Islay, the same region where some of Scotland’s peatiest whiskies are born. In the drink, that gin’s juniper-and-spice overlaid by St. Germain’s classic bouquet of florals and herbs; add a Campari-esque bittersweet grapefruit from Combier Pamplemousse Rose liqueur, some actual grapefruit, and—of course—Conquilla Cava for the bubbles and you’ve got bracing, focused refresher with enough backbone to make a late afternoon summer cocktail feel productive. Jersey Social, 837 Jersey Avenue, Jersey City; 201-222-7447
Another one with spritz strangely absent from the name, but don’t worry, the Buds, Berries, and Bubbles at Blu Grotto in Oceanport passes the test. It’s Lillet Rose (a French apéritif wine), Aperol, fresh strawberry, lemon, and some straight up soda water for bubbles. Blu Grotto is actually an Italian trattoria, so you can trust their hand at getting the proportions of the spritz style right: it’s all about composing a balanced profile—fruit, florals, bittersweetness—and strapping those onto bubbles, helping to aromatize the cocktail. Consume it under the big blue skies (and umbrellas) of their outdoor seating area and you’ll know why “summer” and “spritz” where made for each other. Blu Grotto Trattoria, 200 Port au Peck Avenue, Oceanport; 732-571-7900Click here to leave a comment