While I, like any kind-of-basic woman raised in New England, usually spend September impatiently sweating through the last few weeks of summer and counting down the days till I can order a pumpkin spice latte and not feel weird about it, I’ve found myself unable to muster much fall enthusiasm in this, the year of our pandemic, 2020.
This year, fall feels less like an invitation to don my coziest attire and frolic in a pumpkin patch than it does an ominous precursor to a long, dark winter in which it appears increasingly likely we will find ourselves once again confined to our homes amid another COVID-19 surge.
While in simpler times I usually hailed in fall by binging on candy corn and baking something involving apples and/or canned pumpkin, this year I’ve found myself clinging to summer with a desperation and dread I haven’t felt since I was a middle schooler subjected to back-to-school commercials over the last few weeks of summer vacation. Where I’d normally be embracing autumnal style, food and activities, I’ve instead found myself resisting fall to the point of near delusion. Instead of boots and sweaters, I’ve refused to stop leaving the house in flip flops and crop tops, and instead of hard ciders, I’ve continued pounding the same Aperol spritzes and frosés I sipped streetside all summer in a blissful state of momentary forgetfulness.
For better or worse, this summer offered many a distraction from the daily horrors of life in the end times. Sipping an Aperol spritz in the sun, seated outside a favorite restaurant on a summer afternoon, things could feel almost normal for a bit — which is why, in a desperate bid to seize this illusion of normalcy and abuse it for all its worth, I’ve decided to simply continue drinking Aperol spritzes all fall.
For support in this seasonally inappropriate commitment to the quintessential summer spritz, I turned to the experts. According to Leslie Pariseau and Talia Baiocchi, authors of Spritz, there might not be anything inherently wrong with my year-round Aperol allegiance after all.
“The spritz has origins on the beaches of Venice, so in some senses, yes, it’s always been a summer drink,” they tell InsideHook. However, they add, the spritz as we know it today “was a more slow evolution and not necessarily tied to season.”
More importantly, there’s simply no reason not to drink what you want when you want to — arbitrary seasonal associations be damned.
“We’re big believers that the spritz is for any time of year, and after all these years, we still drink them nearly weekly,” say Pariseau and Baiocchi.
That said, if you still have some fall loyalties and would like to sip a more seasonally appropriate spritz, there are a few ways to give the Aperol spritz a more autumnal makeover.
“We’ve got a bunch of variations on the spritz in our book that we go to when the weather turns,” say Pariseau and Baiocchi, who recommend the Tarocco Spritz — which mingles Cappelletti (a rich, wine-based red bitter) and blood orange — as well as the Amerena Spritz, featuring brandied cherries, balsamic vinegar and Punt e Mes.
“One of our favorites, the Safe Passage from Kenaniah Bystrom of Seattle, mixes bitter Nardini amaro, Aperol, lemon, olive brine and prosecco,” they add, “which always strikes us as a nice entry to fall — savory, bitter and complex.”
Meanwhile, Strangeways in Brooklyn is serving up a seasonal spritz of its own. The garden restaurant first opened its doors in Williamsburg back in August, but their cocktail list was already looking ahead to fall. Strangeways’ “Season of the Spritz” is the restaurant’s attempt to reclaim and refashion the Aperol spritz for fall, adding apricot brandy to give the drink a more autumnal vibe.
Strangeways bar manager Daniel McGee calls the drink a “stone fruit twist” on the Aperol spritz, which lends the traditionally summery drink a warmer, headier flavor fit for the colder months. Not to mention, it’s also stronger than its lighter, more sessionable summertime counterpart.
Equal parts brandy to Aperol with a touch of vanilla syrup, the fall take on the spritz “definitely ups the flavor profile, and the alcohol percentage as well.,” says McGee, who adds that part of what makes the traditional Aperol spritz seem so summery is the ease with which it tends to go down. The Season of the Spritz, however, “is a higher-ABV cocktail than a standard Aperol spritz,” which, frankly, is probably something we could all use going into the cold, dark months ahead.
If you’re looking to autumnize your own spritz at home, Strangeways was kind enough to share their Season of the Spritz recipe, which we’ve included below.
But remember, the number-one rule of drinking is to simply drink what you want, when you want. Time barely even matters anymore; I have to remind myself what month it is approximately three times every day. So if you, like me, want to spend your fall throwing back one of summer’s most distinctive cocktails in willful, active denial of the shifting seasons and a potential return to the numbing drudgery of self-isolation (only colder this time!), down an Aperol spritz or two. Life is a weird, terrifying hellscape that only seems to be getting more weird and terrifying by the day.
Season of the Spritz
By Strangeways in Brooklyn
1.5 oz Aperol
.75 oz Blume Marillen Apricot Brandy
2 oz Sparkling Wine
1.5 oz Soda Water
.5 oz Vanilla Syrup*
250 grams simple syrup (1:1 mix water/sugar)
2 grams vanilla extract
Mix together throughly over ice. Serve.
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