The New York Times says the Aperol Spritz, one of the most popular cocktails in the world, is 'not a good drink.' Here's why they have got it all wrong.

Rachel Hosie / INSIDERAperitivo hour in Rome, Italy.

On Thursday, The New York Times published a story titled: “The Aperol Spritz Is Not a Good Drink.”

Rebekah Peppler, an “American writer and food stylist,” sets the scene for aperitivo hour – a more sophisticated Italian version of happy hour, which involves pre-dinner drinks and snacks, called cicchetti.

For many, whether you’re living in Italy or elsewhere, this sweet time of day has become “spritz hour” due to the popularity of the Aperol Spritz, which has been largely driven by a global marketing push from Aperol owner Campari.

The drink is made with Aperol (an Italian apéritif made of gentian, rhubarb, and cinchona), prosecco, and a splash of soda added to a glass with ice, and served with a slice of orange.

Peppler says the drink “possesses qualities” that she can back, such as its bright colour, amount of ice, and ability to set you up for the evening ahead.

However, she goes on to say: “The Aperol spritz isn’t actually good.”

Alison Millington / INSIDER

“Served in branded, jumbo wine glasses, the sugary apéritif is paired with low-quality prosecco, soda water and an outsize orange slice, resulting in something that drinks like a Capri Sun after soccer practice on a hot day,” she adds. “Not in a good way.”

A photo showing a delicious-looking Spritz is also captioned: “You’re better than this.”

The Aperol Spritz was the ninth best-selling cocktail in the world for 2019, making the top 10 for the first time because of its popularity at 30% of the world’s best bars.


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So, naturally, a lot of people weren’t happy with Peppler’s take.

Plenty of journalists and food and drink experts took to Twitter to express their outrage at the Spritz onslaught.

Alberto Nardelli, Europe Editor at BuzzFeed News, called the take “the worst opinion of 2019.”

He went on to say: “For me, Aperol Spritz tastes of summer, sunshine and happiness. Campari or an Americano are both lovely, but it’s a seasonal thing. Plus, I have a bias for sweeter flavours.”

“The New York Times was wrong about the Iraq war and wrong about the Aperol Spritz,” Afropunk host Bridget Todd tweeted.

The New York Times’ own Senior Politics Editor Johanna Barr even said that she felt “attacked,” before going on to say: “i quit over this, i don’t work at the new york times anymore.”

Food & Wine even joined in on the debate, tweeting: “Aperol Spritz Forever.”

MyRecipes Senior Editor Margaret Eby came to the defence of the innocent Capri Sun. “Some people like an Aperol Spritz, other people don’t like an Aperol Spritz, but I think we can all agree that to besmirch the good name of Capri Sun is going too far,” she tweeted.

Sorry, but an Aperol Spritz is nothing like a Capri Sun – and even if it was, this comparison wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. There was nothing more refreshing during my childhood than the scene she described.

However, English food writer and cooking show host Nigella Lawson backed The New York Times – and she wasn’t the only one.

“I agree with @nytimes. Why would anyone have a Tizer-like Aperol Spritz when you could have a Campari Soda or even an Americano?”

Sydney-based writer J.R. Hennessy added: “aperol spritz sucks because it looks like it would taste like fanta and doesn’t. 0/10.”

This is hardly the first time a New York Times article has riled up the food and drink industries.

“It’s rich that the ‘aperol spritz is not a good drink’ discourse is coming from the same outlet that once suggested I put damn peas in my guacamole,” said Refinery29 writer Andrea González-Ramírez, referring to a recipe the New York Times posted back in 2015 which was met with equal outrage across the internet. Barack Obama, then the President of the United States of America, even weighed in.

Now, in the case of the Aperol Spritz, there are plenty of reasons why Peppler, the New York Times, and even Nigella Lawson (sorry, Nigella) are wrong.

Not only is it a more attractive-looking beverage for summer – it’s bright orange and packed with ice, after all – but it’s also incredibly easy to make, and very affordable.

It’s also important to note that it was never created to replace wine, beer, or other cocktails – it has a very specific time and place.


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Claudia Romeo, a video producer for INSIDER who grew up in Bari, Italy but has been living in London for six years, thinks Peppler’s opinion could have more to do with the way Spritz is advertised outside of Italy than with the drink itself.

“I think the real problem with Spritz is that it’s been advertised so much to the point where people have forgotten what is actually is: a simple aperitif drink,” Romeo said. “Instead, now it’s everywhere on international menus, from brunches to dinners, and mixologists are reinterpreting sometimes in fancier, more expensive ways.

“Aperol Spritz was not meant to sit there next to your glass of wine, next to your beer or your favourite cocktail if you wish. As an Italian, I’ve never had a Spritz at a dinner party or a brunch, or even at a bar in the evening. I grew up with it being the “drink that goes with olives and other nibbles” just because it is fresh, orangey, sugary, and generally a nice drink to sip on when you’re sitting at a café with friends and what you’re drinking is really not that important.”

Last summer, when my brother got married in Positano, Italy, the gap between the ceremony and dinner hit right at aperitivo hour – and the scene certainly wouldn’t have been complete without the orange-coloured drinks that the guests could make again when they returned to their home countries.

Spritz in italyAlison Millington / INSIDERThis scene would not have been complete without the Aperol Spritz.

Entirely unpretentious: To make an Aperol Spritz all you need is a bottle of Aperol, which you can order straight from Amazon in the UK for a very reasonable £10 ($US13), a bottle of soda, a bottle of prosecco of your choosing, ice, and an orange.

Peppler even admits that when made at home, “spritzes are zero-intimidation cocktails – easy to make, easier still to drink.”

Yes, of course, the drink is better with a higher quality prosecco, as she suggests – but while every drink is better with good ingredients, it doesn’t mean you can’t make a tasty one with cheaper bubbly if you get the balance right.

“Like all things that get mass exported abroad (pizza ringing huge bells) you will find cheap and not-so-tasty versions, you will find people who make it badly, and people who hate it (I know Italians that don’t like it, but honestly never made a fuss about it),” Romeo said.

Finally, as a well-balanced, refreshing drink that also packs a punch, the Aperol Spritz is the perfect introduction to bitter drinks for people who aren’t yet willing to dip their toes into the land of Campari Spritz, Americano, or Negroni.

As wine critic Esther Mobley put it: “Aperol Spritz is the gateway spritz. It’s the spritz you can get even when you’re at a shitty bar. AND IT TASTES GOOD!”

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