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When in Europe, why not drink as the locals do? Before dinner, that means an aperitif, something sweet and bitter designed to whet the appetite. In Italy, they love the spritz, a cocktail of wine or champagne mixed with sparkling water and a bitter liqueur like Campari or Aperol. While onboard a Europe cruise, try the specialty Aperol Spritz, a refreshing blend of Aperol, soda and Tresor Brut Reserva Cava, a sparkling wine from Spain. Aperol from Italy blended with sparkling wine from Spain, makes the Aperol Spritz a decidedly Continental cocktail. Whether it’s a buona notte, or a buenas noches, the Aperol Spritz has you covered.

The cocktail has an interesting history in Europe. Most epicurean historians contend that the cocktail is an American invention. The word cocktail was first defined in 1806, in a publication called The Balance and Columbian Repository, of Hudson, New York. The drink was described as “a stimulating liquor composed of any kind of sugar, water and bitters, vulgarly called a bittered sling.” The term “cocktail,” is believed to have originated at Peychaud’s Pharmacy, in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The pharmacist there served a concoction of whisky and bitters in a fancy eggcup the French called a “coquetel.” The English-speaking patrons of the pharmacy misheard the word as “cocktail,” and the rest is history. Whether you called it “cocktail,” or “coquetel,” the drink became all the rage in New Orleans.

American soldiers brought the cocktail to Europe during the First World War. The drinks caught on quickly. During Prohibition in the United States, Americans visiting Europe sought out the cocktails they couldn’t get at home. American-style cocktail bars began springing up across the Continent. Harry’s New York Bar opened in Paris in 1923 and was soon frequented by Americans including Ernest Hemingway, Jack Dempsey and Humphrey Bogart. Harry’s is credited with inventing the Bloody Mary. Visitors to Paris can drop in at Harry’s still today. The American Bar at the Savoy Hotel in London was perhaps the first bar in Europe to introduce American-style cocktails. The bar’s Savoy Cocktail book, published in 1930, in still considered the top authority on cocktails, with more than 750 recipes. When in London, stop by The American Bar still today. The famous Harry’s Bar in Venice opened in 1931. Bartender Giuseppe Cipriani is credited with inventing the bellini cocktail, a mix of prosecco and peach puree. Patrons of Harry’s in Venice included Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock and, of course, Ernest Hemingway. Harry’s remains a Venice institution.

Cocktails resembling Norwegian’s Aperol Spritz, originated in Venice too. Throughout the Hapsburg Empire, when Austria reigned over Venice, visiting Austrians found the local wines a bit too potent. In bars, they asked for a bit of water (a “spritzen” in German) be added to their wine. Later, soda water and an aperitif agent like Aperol or Campari were added, and the cocktail remains a favorite drink in Venice.

So try the Aperol Spritz aboard Norwegian today, and enjoy a taste of history. The bartenders at Norwegian are happy to share the recipe with you.

Refreshing Aperol Spritz

Aperol Spritz

1 oz. Aperol
2 oz. Tresor Brut Reserva Cava
1 oz. club soda
Garnish: 2 half orange wheels
Glass: wine glass

Directions:

Add the Aperol and soda in a wine glass. Add ice and stir for 10 seconds. Add Tresor. Stir. Garnish with two half orange wheels.