The first time I fell in love in Rome, it was with a man who later became my husband.
The second time I fell in love in Rome, it was with a bartender. It happened in an instant, as his hand was stretched out before me, holding a bulbous glass chalice full of gorgeous orange liquid, the backlit shelves of the Hotel de Russie bar illuminating his bald head as if he were a glowing angel from above bearing the holy water of the gods.
I took my first sip from the chalice, and I was smitten. With that drink — o, dio, sí! — but also with that lovely hunk of Italian bartender, Massimo d'Adezzio, for delivering me unto this new chapter of my life, that of the Aperol Spritz.
Massimo spoke perfect English with a sexy Italian lilt, and he ingratiated himself by telling a madcap tale of being pulled over by a cop while on a cocktail research road trip in Texas, my home state. As a result, I was compelled to try his margarita, which was delizioso. Then I told him I wanted to try the "newest, most exciting Italian cocktail" he knew.
He delivered the spritz to me in a red wine glass — not a chalice, as my dream memory had translated it — and it was the most refreshing balance of flavors I have ever tasted. Aperol, the orange-flavored Italian aperitif, produced the bright orange color and the bitter base. Prosecco gave the cocktail sweetness and, of course, sparkle. The soda splash cut the other tastes down to size. Massimo wrote down the proportions for me on a napkin: "1/3, 1/3, 1/3!" But once I got home to try it on my own, I liked it more akin to the instructions on the Aperol bottle: three parts prosecco, two parts Aperol, and one splash of soda. Over ice. Served with — at the very least — an orange garnish, or at the Massimo most ("Massimo" means "maximum" in Italian, after all), a blood orange slice and a green olive floater.
Both of my Rome-ances are still going strong — grazie mille for asking.
Sally learns to make Aperol Spritz. (VeryGoodLooking on Vimeo)