Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Aperol Spritz at the Noho Star

On Superbowl Sunday, I decided to have a quick cocktail before heading into the storm at work. To stay close, I decided to go into The Noho Star (330 Lafayette Street, NY NY 212-925-0070). To be perfectly honest, I had never entered the Noho Star. It really is surprising to me since I have worked on Bleecker Street for the better part of over 12 years. In order to take the edge off of what I correctly surmised would be a stressful evening, I decided to order something light. A few months ago, I noticed that Aperol was making its rounds in the advertising of the Aperol Spritz, so I decided to order myself one. Before I go into the cocktail, I want to touch on Aperol itself.

The Aperol website describes its product as being "The Perfect Apéritif". Here is a more in depth description of what Aperol is:
The name says it all: Aperol is the perfect apéritif. Bright orange in colour, it has a unique taste, thanks to the secret recipe, which has never been changed, with infusions of selected ingredients including bitter and sweet oranges and many other herbs (including rhubarb) and roots in perfect proportions.
Aperol made its debut at the Padua International Fair which was describes as "exhibition devoted to all aspects of the good life; food, holidays, tourism, travelling, hobbies & interests….". Created by the Barbieri brothers, Luigi and Silvio who at a very low alcohol content (22 proof/11% alc) advertised their product to a demographic that was deemed to be fitness driven.

Here is the flavor profile for Aperol:
NOSE: Lightly alcoholic, zesting orange with appealing complex herbal scents harmonized with a touch of vanilla

BODY: Intense orange top with herbal and woody body notes, pleasantly bittersweet and salty

TEXTURE: Velvety and rounded, with long-lasting orange and wood memories

BACKTASTE: Herbal long pleasant typical bitterness
This is the official recipe for the Aperol Spritz:

Start by adding ice into the glass then pour in the Prosecco, the Aperol and add a splash of soda, top with a slice of orange. This serving avoids the Aperol settling at the bottom.

The cocktail itself was very light and bubbly though I am not sure if the way it was made at the Noho Star was the official way. The cocktail is described (in the cocktail menu booklet) as just being made of Aperol and Prosecco. The cocktail did not have a slice of orange to assist with the settling of the Aperol at the bottom of the glass. To be honest, I'm not sure if the Aperol did settle to the bottom. I like the hint of orange and other herbal flavors mixed with the prosecco and didn't find it to be bitter in the least. Which leads me into my next point.

Some people will see Aperol and think that it is similar to Campari. Now if you have had Campari in any form, you'll know that it is also an apéritif which can bring a shock to taste buds with its bitterness. While they have similarities, they are indeed different products. Since I have yet to taste Aperol on its own, I'll defer to the comparison that was written by the website Post Prohibition Handcrafted Libations.

In their post Campari and Aperol from April 21, 2011:
You’ve probably noticed conversations regarding the use of Aperol vs Campari in cocktail recipes. That’s because they have a lot of similarities, but I feel they are worlds apart. Aperol has a strong orange and mandarin orange flavor with a nice balance between a cinchona and gentian bitterness and an easy sugary sweetness. Campari kicks in with a bold woody bitterness, featuring more of a rhubarb and berry mid palette and finishes with a floral bouquet of potent herbs.

There are a couple things to consider when deciding whether to use Campari or Aperol in a recipe. First, Campari has a considerably bolder flavor, while Aperol has a higher sugar conent. If you prefer cocktails that are bitter then Campari will be your choice. It is harder to balance and needs an equal part sweetening agent like a sweet vermouth. On the other hand, since Aperol is smoother, it is also more versatile.

Second, always consider your color palette. Campari is a darker ruby red, while Aperol has a lighter orange coloring. (An interesting side note: Campari used to get its red coloring from carmine, which is made from cochineal beetles. Yes that’s right, I said beetles)

Third, Campari hass nearly double the alcohol content of Aperol. Aperol lends itself well to a milder, more refreshing summer drink. Campari is often in boozier drinks that pack a punch.
Well there you go. If you want a cocktail with a light and fruity feel without worrying about getting drunk, give the Aperol Spritz a try. I leave you with a sexy commercial spot by Aperol from 2005 with Brazilian model Amanda Rosa Da Silva who in the words of the Aperol website:
Another memorable on-air spot features Amanda Rosa Da Silva in the leading role of a barmaid cat walking on a row of tables while serving Aperol Spritz to her customers. The closing phrase, “Happy Spritz, Happy Aperol” contributes to the explosive success of the drink in Italy.

Per la vostra salute. Saluti.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
Sisco Vanilla