This Winter Aperol Spritz with Sloe Gin is a great seasonal take on the much loved Italian classic. Serve over ice with rosemary, a slice of orange and a few raspberries or blackberries.
One of my favourite summer tipples is a classic Italian spritz. Talk about ice-cold liquid refreshment on the hottest of days.
However, in the cooler months, my libation tastes change considerably, so I’ve created a winter Aperol spritz. It’s very similar to the original, but the addition of sloe gin and seasonal garnishes transforms this drink into something much more suited to winter palates.
What is Sloe Gin
Despite its name, sloe gin is not gin. It is a gin-based liqueur made from sloe berries.
Sloes are actually a type of plum. They are blue-black in colour and tend to look like a cross between a regular plum and a blueberry. They are incredibly sour, with a bitter skin, so are not suitable for eating raw.
Sloes can be used to make jam – they come into their own when paired with bramble fruit such as blackberries and raspberries. And of course, they can be macerated in spirits to produce sloe liqueurs.
Sloe gin is typically made from sloe berries, sugar and gin. It can be sipped upon just as it is or included in cocktail recipes.
Since sloes also partner well with orange flavours, sloe gin was my natural impulse when I started thinking about making a winter spritz cocktail
Tips for Making A Classic Italian Spritz
The classic Italian spritz is a wine-based cocktail made with Prosecco, a bitter Italian liqueur such as Aperol and sparkling soda water. It’s typically served over ice in a wine glass or a tumbler, but I’ve found that a gin Copa glass works well too.
The spritz is a very easy drink to make. Ingredients are just poured into the glass one after the other and served with an orange or lemon slice and an olive.
But to get maximum satisfaction from this easy summer libation, I have a few tips to share:
- Choose a large glass – like a tumbler or a wine glass. This is a relatively long serve with plenty of ice included to keep it cold on scorching days, so pick a suitably large glass
- If using fine glassware add the ice to the glass carefully – this is purely to avoid the ice hitting the bottom of the glass at speed and shattering it (says the voice of experience – I ruined my favourite glass)
- For best results, use chilled ingredients, so the ice does not melt too quickly or dilute the drink too much
- Always use freshly opened Prosecco and soda water to ensure enough sparkle is in the drink
- Add the Aperol first, followed by the soda water and then the Prosecco, so the drink naturally mixes well
- Garnish with a thick slice of orange or lemon and an olive. Use large green olives in brine rather than the oily type, since oil in your spritz will not be pleasant
- Serve straight away
Just making for one or two people? Consider using a mini bottle of Prosecco to avoid it going flat.
Though Aperol has become the modern-day favourite, a classic Italian spritz can be made with any Italian bitter liqueur. Campari and Cynar are two worthy alternatives.
How to Make a Winter Aperol Spritz
The good news is that my winter Aperol spritz is just as easy to make as the original. I’ve just replaced a third of the Aperol with Sloe gin and redesigned the garnish.
Of course, I’ve kept the orange slice, but I’ve added raspberries to tally with both the jammy sloe and citrussy orange flavours present in the drink. I’ve also included a sprig of fresh rosemary to add a delightful waft of herbaceous fragrance to the glass.
And that’s it. The transition to a winter spritz cocktail is complete. Simple.
The plummy flavour of the sloe gin pairs particularly well with the Aperol, so in this instance I do not recommend switching out the Aperol for any other bitter liqueur.
I do recommend serving at all manor of autumn and winter celebrations from Halloween and Bonfire Night through to Christmas and New Years Eve. This winter spritz cocktail does make a simple yet fantastic party drink.
PS This is my final post of 2019 so Merry Christmas and a happy & healthy 2020 to you all.
More Winter Cocktails to Try:
Winter Aperol Spritz with Sloe Gin
- 40 ml Aperol
- 20 ml Sloe Gin
- 60 ml Soda water (club soda)
- 60 ml Prosecco
- 1 Rosemary sprig
- 5 Raspberries
- 1 Orange slice
- Put the ice into a large glass – a balloon wine glass or a Copa glass is ideal
- Pour in the Aperol and sloe gin
- Top with the soda water and Prosecco
- Put the rosemary sprig in the palm of one hand and clap the other hand down sharply on it. This helps release the aroma. Drop into the glass
- Add the orange slice and raspberries
- Serve immediately