PHOTO: My Aperol Spritz at Officina during happy hour (c) Sery Kim
Like everyone else who keenly follows the food-and-cocktail industry, I read in surprise The New York Times article eviscerating both the drink Aperol Spritz, as well as those who chose to drink this delightful cocktail. Perhaps the article did what it was supposed to do -- which is to get a TON of attention -- but the ensuing debate was re-soundly in support of this classic Italian beverage.
Personally, I don't get an Aperol Spritz as my "go-to drink of choice," but I do enjoy it when I go to an Italian restaurant and, even then, just during happy hour. Despite liking clean, alcohol-forward drinks like a Vodka Martini or a Gin-and-Tonic, when I order an Aperol Spritz I am expecting a sweet drink. I don't expect it to be particularly nuanced or have multiple layers. Nor does it harken to anything even remotely to a Capri Sun. If anything, the memories an Aperol Spritz evokes is of my trips to Italy. I take a sip and I am harkened back to glorious vacations, happy memories, laying on the beach in Amalfi, the sun of Firenze ... basically all of life's joys.
Yes, the Aperol Spritz reminds me of joy. So why wouldn't I like the drink!?! Why wouldn't The New York Times writer like the drink??
Now, a bad Aperol Spritz indeed is very bad; however, this is true of anything. Still, I would never wholesale dismiss an entire vertical of options at a restaurant just because one restaurant did a very bad job -- just like I think it was unfair for the writer of this article to dismiss what is a quintessential drink for those who love Italy.
PHOTO: Aperol Spritz at Centrolina (c) Sery Kim
For those of you who want to know where to get a good Aperol Spritz in D.C., you can read this Washingtonian piece. Personally, I like going to Officina at The Wharf during their happy hour (4 pm to 6 pm) so I can order mine for $8. The price also includes a size of 2 slices of Officina pizza (free) and olives (also free) so it really is the best deal in D.C. not just for drinks but also, overall, for happy hour. If you end up going to their sister restaurant, the Michelin-starred Masseria they also have a very nice Aperol Spritz, but whenever I am at Masseria I delve deeply into their magnificent wine list.
Additionally, when I am near CityCenterDC, I always spend a lot of time eating (and drinking) at Centrolina. I absolutely love their Aperol Spritz and their's is VERY strong. So delicious!
Finally, the only other place where I have had an Aperol Spritz in D.C. is at Pizzeria Paradiso in Alexandria and it was fine. Not quite like Officina, Masseria or Centrolina but it was solid effort!