If you've ever been to Europe, you may have noticed the big wine glasses of iced orange liquid that many people tend to be sipping on at outdoor café tables. When I was in Italy I saw pretty much everyone drinking them and was dying to know what they were. Well, the name of that orange beverage is a "spritz," and it's pretty wonderful. What is a spritz? Read on to figure out what makes it so darn good.

What Is a Spritz? 

Lauren Kruchten

A spritz is a wine-based cocktail made with prosecco, a bitter liqueur such as Aperol, Campari, or Cynar, and sparkling soda water. It's typically served over ice in a wine glass, lowball glass, or martini glass with an orange wedge garnish. The bitter liqueurs are what give this drink that signature orange color, as well as its bitter orange taste. 

The drink originated in the Italian region of Veneto in the 1800s, based off the "Austrian Spritzer," which is made from equal parts white wine and soda water. Members of the Habsburg Empire, who had dominated Veneto at this time, were not used to the wines of the region, so they would get bar hosts to spray water in their wine to make it taste lighter. Thus, the spritz was born, and has since seen many evolutions in different countries around Europe. 

The great thing about a spritz is that, taste-wise, it's neither too sweet nor too bitter. The sweet prosecco and bitter Aperol equal each other out to provide a citrusy, bubbly, refreshing drink that pairs beautifully with almost any meal.

Commonly, spritz is enjoyed as an aperitif (before a meal) or as a digestif (after a meal). Before a meal, it helps to stimulate appetite and get your body prepared for indulging. When enjoyed after a meal, it helps to aid digestion. But really I'd suggest drinking spritz at any time of the day you please, because it'll be just as good whether or not you're eating food with it too. 

Though spritz is most common in Europe, especially southeast Italy, you can actually get it at many bars in the US as well. Or, even better, you can make it at home yourself, as Aperol is sold in many liquor and wine shops in the states. Now just imagine yourself sitting at an outdoor café in Europe while you sip away...