It's a Spritz, Not a Marathon

Rhubarb spritz cocktail at The Roosevelt restaurant in Richmond, VA
Photo by @jaypaulphoto

Originally published in Richmond Magazine.

This is the time of year I start hankering for bubbles in my drink.

Each day is longer, the sky bluer, and all around is the sparkle of life unpacking itself from the long winter sleep. My blood feels the need to be uplifted.

It’s time to unfold from winter’s cocoon and venture forth to see what sort of fizzy bright wonders Richmond’s top watering-holes are putting out this season. Fortunately in recent years cocktail culture has turned down the ABVolume from the renaissance's 2-ounce-base standard to a more civilized hum.

And so we revive the spritz.

Just as refreshing but more sessionable than a highball (spritz’s boozier cousin) the category is on the rise. Especially with more people embracing aperitif and digestif spirits—many of which were originally meant to be lengthened with soda and consumed as a tonic for what ails you. That’s why they’re often so dense and unctuous with bitter herbaceous sweetness.

That bitterness, by the way, has the gastrological effect of making you hungry. Ever notice how most restaurant folk order a Negroni or three before settling into a meal?

You can accomplish the same effect with a gentler launch, with something like the ever-popular Aperol Spritz.

Mixology nerds could debate for hours the ideal spritz method, but here’s the simple, practical way I’ve found best.

The right way to make an Aperol Spritz

In a wine glass filled with solid ice cubes:

  • Slowly pour 3-4 oz dry sparkling wine

  • Add 1.5 oz Aperol

  • Top with highly carbonated soda water to taste

  • Garnish with half an orange wheel

Don’t stir or agitate because it knocks loose those precious bubbles. Pour heavier ingredients over lighter ones and trust the carbonation to mix the liquids.

Experiment responsibly: Substitute for Aperol essentially at will—anything with a similar bittersweet complexity.

Spritz cocktail recipes in Richmond, VA

David Rosenfeld just added this rustic variation to the menu at The Roosevelt. The perfect transition drink from winter to spring; dark and earthy yet tart and uplifting. Definitely nibble on the candied rhubarb.

Rhubarb Spritz – The Roosevelt cocktail bar

1 oz cappelletti

.5 oz zucca rabarbaro

.5 oz giffard rhubarbe

2 oz soda water

3 oz Rosemont sparkling Rose wine

  • Combine non-sparkling ingredients in highball glass over ice.

  • Add bubbly. Garnish with candied rhubarb twist


From Madison Pere at Little Nickel comes this refreshing herbal delight. Nicely rounded and faintly woody, use a high-sparkle soda to tickle that sylvan magic right up your nose.

Cardamaro Spritz – Little Nickel cocktail bar

1 oz Cardamaro

2 oz Albariño

1 oz cava


  • Combine ingredients in a wine glass. Add ice and top with soda.

  • Garnish with 2 dashes orange bitters (or sub orange twist)


Jas Singh of ​Restaurant ​Adarra​ offers up a crisp floral mashup of spritz and collins. Dangerously sessionable and plays well with food​.

Early Bloom – Restaurant Adarra

1​.25​ oz Lillet Rose

​.25 oz​ Singani 63

​.5 oz​ verjus

​.25​ lemon juice

​.25​ honey

4 oz prosecco or cava

  • Combine non-sparkling ingredients in highball glass over ice.

  • Top with bubbly.