Lo spritz è l’aperitivo veneziano che ha fatto il giro del mondo. A Venetian excellence that has become a symbol of the international aperitif. Perhaps the best known in the world. We are talking about spritz, in all its forms and variations. It finds its roots in a Venice no longer Serenissima but under Austrian domination. Simple drink in those years, alcoholic but not too much. Today universally spread and become a must to anticipate a lunch or dinner. But also to accompany an aperitif and appreciated on every occasion. The spritz is the Venetian aperitif that has gone around the world.
From the shadow to the spritz, passing through the Austrian domination
Let’s tell a history, going back to the nineteenth-century when it was still used to drink a glass of wine in the shadow of the bell tower of San Marco. Precisely for this reason (and still today in Venice it’s so called= a glass of wine in the lagoon city is called ombra ‘shadow‘. Those were the years of Austrian domination when the soldiers of the Austro-Hungarian army learned to appreciate this custom of the ombra de vin – wine in the shadow. But their palates weren’t used to Venetian wines, and the drink, as it was born, was a little too alcoholic.
Somehow, it had to be lightened to make it easier to drink. They therefore thought of extending the wine with a part of sparkling water. A spray of water. And since in German sprinkling is called spritzen, that glass of wine is no longer a shadow but a spritz. It must be said that in Venice ombra de vin is asked and still drunk, but the spritz has become another thing, and that’s what has gone around the world.
Once the Austrians passed, at the beginning of the twentieth century the introduction of elegant siphons for seltz modified and refined the simple original blend, which then found a “complete” recipe with the arrival in Venice of the Pilla distillery. Two young Bolognese brothers with good liquor experience decide to set up a distillery for the production of a liqueur, the Select, in the historic Venetian district of Castello. A particular distillate composed of spices and aromatic herbs whose seat in Venice is not chosen by chance. La Serenissima has a tradition of commercial exchanges with the Orient, including spices and precious herbs. The same ones that still make the flavor of this distillate unique.
Select, Aperol, Bitter, here is the spritz of modern times
Hence the very happy combination of spritz with Select, where a third of Select, a third of prosecco (or in any case sparkling wine) and a third of sparkling water are mixed in equal quantities. And this is ultimately the recipe for the famous aperitif. The spritz version is certainly the most Venetian.
Then spritzes with Aperol and Bitter Campari arrived, and perhaps today are the most requested. The first is slightly sweeter, the second with more bitter notes. To complete the spritz, there is a green olive, sometimes even an orange slice, but the latter in Venice is an uncommon practice. We are now far from the spritz of the Austro-Hungarian period which, ultimately, was nothing more than a glass of wine with sparkling water…
Select production returns to the lagoon, one hundred years later the first distillery of the Pilla brothers
And if the spritz with Select remains the most Venetian version, Select (which now belongs to the Montenegro group) has announced, on the occasion of the centenary, the return of its production to Venice. An old industrial building in the Cannaregio district will in fact become Ca’ Select and will host the heart of the maceration process of some herbs and spices that characterize the taste of the product. The new headquarters in the lagoon, which will develop over an area of 650 square meters, will also host an experiential space open to the city, with a tasting area, an event area for social and cultural initiatives and an exhibition area that will tell how multimedia and interactive history of Select.
A story deeply intertwined with that of the early twentieth century Venice where the origin of the Select denomination is confused between reality and legend. In fact, we would like the authorship to be attributed to Gabriele D’Annunzio who, on the occasion of a sumptuous dinner for the Feast of the Redeemer, would have thought of this name deriving it from the Latin word selectus, chosen. In reality, Select would be nothing more than the acronym for “Stabilimento Enologico Liquori E Cremore Tartaro”, whose first production site was located not far from Venice, in San Donà di Piave.