Did you hear? The New York Times declared that “the Aperol Spritz is not a good drink. The news should rather be, a major US publication is peddling an opinion piece as “journalism” to draw attention to their subscription service and an author’s book on French cocktails. I’d like to see this for what it really is: a marketing scheme. So grab an Aperol Spritz, and let’s chat! 😉
Today’s aperitivo chat will be in fact, about aperitivo, or rather Aperol Spritz, the drink synonymous with the pre-dinner ritual that originated in Veneto, then spread throughout Italy, and now to the world (or at least the world of Instagram).
Today was certainly an entertaining day. Two major US publicans took the lead in an internet-wide debate about the Aperol Spritz. The New York Times Cooking declared that the Aperol Spritz is not a good drink.” And then Italy Magazine fired back that “Aperol Spritz is, in fact, good.”
Look which post has more likes???
There’s nothing like a good food and drink debate that piques my curiosity. What makes people like or dislike certain food or drink? What is the secret ingredient to popularity? More than anything, this banter on the internet about the taught me a lot about marketing. (I am fascinated with the psychology of marketing!).
So why attack the Spritz at all, and not, say, Pastis (a popular anise-flavored aperitif from Provence)? Because Pastis lives in obscurity beyond the borders of France. There are no international leagues of Pastis fans to come to its defense. There would be no international attention, and therefore absolutely nothing for the NYT or the author to gain.
This NYT article about Spritz not being good, is in fact, not entirely about Spritz. The New York Times and the author are like children who call others names. It’s not about being mean; they merely want attention.
The Clickbait Title
Let’s start with the clickbait title. OF COURSE the New York Times (and the author) KNEW that their clickbait title would get hoards of Spritz enthusiasts to click and find out WHY it’s not a good drink?!?!?! Well played NYT, well played. You have our attention.
I decided to dig a little deeper. WHO is this person that called Spritz “not a good drink” and WHY??
Like Voldemort, she shall not be named. What I did discover about her is that she is an American who published a French cocktail book recently (that must be experiencing a sales slump to take this kind of attention-seeking jab at the undeserving Aperol Spritz).
From the comments on Instagram that I read, roughly 95% of people disagreed with her. Did the negative attention work? I did notice that she gained around 1k+ followers on Instagram throughout the day. Was it worth it? Time will tell.
The NYT Subscription
So what does this author who shall not be named like to drink? She urges us to make Spritz her way. NYT links two of her recipes at the bottom of the article. But low and behold, upon clicking on them you are prompted to pay for a NYT subscription! Fancy that, drawing massive traffic to their site and locking away the very links they say can save us from the dreaded Aperol Spritz. Interestingly enough, the article hating on the Aperol Spritz is free to view, but the suggested alternative recipes require a subscription purchase.
(Side-note: I much prefer the Guardian’s quality of journalism and their donation model).
Aperol Spritz’s Mass Popularity is Due to Marketing, Too
Even though I visited Italy for the first time in 2003, it wasn’t until 2016 that I tried my first Aperol Spritz while spending time in the Veneto region. Before then, I had never seen nor heard of an Aperol Spritz in other regions of Italy that I had visited.
Then suddenly, it seemed that spritz was everywhere, especially on Instagram (here’s how). In a nutshell, Aperol Spritz became popular through marketing, and the NYT and the author are trying to ride that popularity.
In a nutshell, marketing is really about gaining the public’s attention, good or bad.
What I think of Aperol Spritz
I love Aperol Spritz because I had it for the very first time in Veneto, its region of origin. For me, there is no more incredible experience than connecting to a place through the traditional food & drink, especially in Italy where cuisine is so regional. While the NYT article treats Aperol Spritz as a recent Instagram phenomenon, Aperol has in fact existed since 1919. I urge you to at least try Aperol Spritz in Veneto, its region of origin for a benchmark of what it should be, and then decide for yourself if you like it or not. Not all Aperol Spritz are created equal, just like any other drink.
On a personal level, Aperol Spritz represents fond memories of my time in Italy. I do, in fact, enjoy the taste of Aperol Spritz, though respect that like strong espresso, it may not be everybody’s cup of tea. To me, it is refreshing and has a nice balance of bitter & sweet, if it is made well. I think we can all agree that concerning mixed drinks, it ultimately depends on ratios and quality of ingredients.
I completely disagree with the author who shall not be named that Aperol Spritz is “cloyingly sweet” and “topped with garbage bubbles,” as she stated in the @nytcooking instagram stories. I am only left to wonder which planet she drank spritz on? I am much more inclined to agree with this author on Italy Magazine who has passion and knowledge of Italy that Aperol Spritz is on the “tangy and bitter” side.
Even though I am not Italian, I feel called to be a preserver of Italian food & drink traditions, and especially to uncover them from some of the inevitable misinterpretation and alterations that come with mass popularity. The Aperol Spritz does not belong to Instagram, it belongs to Veneto.
I leave you with these perfect words from the Italians themselves:
Mentre il mondo litiga, noi aspettiamo di vedere chi vince, seduti sul divano con patatine e un paio di bicchieri di Spritz (fatto con una bollicina buona, è ovvio).
While the world argues, we wait to see who wins, sitting on the sofa with chips and a couple glasses of Spritz (made with good bubbles, obviously).Source: Dissapore
All in all, I am happy that this article has me wanting to dig deeper regarding the Aperol Spritz:
- Does Aperol have the same ingredients in Italy as the US? (The cloyingly sweet reference has me thinking this. I find American Coke sweetened with corn syrup cloyingly sweet, yet Coke abroad sweetened with cane sugar is perfectly refreshing).
- How do different types of Prosecco (Brut, Extra Dry, Dry) and qualities (DOC, DOCG) affect the flavor of Aperol Spritz?
- What is the best Prosecco to use?
- Do other bubbly wines that the author suggests really taste better than Prosecco?
- Do I prefer Campari over Aperol? (I’ve never tried a Campari Spritz.)
- I saw an Italian from Veneto comment that Spritz should be served without ice. I have always had it served with ice, but I will take note next time I’m in Italy since melting ice that dilutes the drink seemed to be a chief complaint of the author. (Aren’t there a million drinks served on ice??).
- I also saw that Aperol used to be colored with crickets, but that it now uses artificial coloring to be made vegan. Hmmmm looking into this one!
To be continued…