An Eppinger Spritz – the Perfect Aperitivo
Triestini, can and do, enjoy an apertivo really anytime after the morning coffee ritual. For myself, just like the morning coffee ritual, now the perfect beginning of the evening is an Eppi Spritz.
While the word spritz is derived from the German “splash” or “sparkling”, the spritz has become institutionalized, a wine based aperitif that is part of the every day vocabulary and life of North Eastern Italy.
“Spritz” was born during the period of the Hapsburg domination in the Veneto (Italy) during the late 1700s and early 1800s. The soldiers, but also the various merchants, diplomats and employees of the Habsburg Empire in the Veneto became quickly accustomed to drinking local wine, but the alcohol content was higher than that of the wines to which they were used to. While a little alcohol helps a soldier going into battle, an intoxicated soldier does not win many battles. And so the military hierarchy decided to “spray” a little water into the wine (spritzen, in German) to make the wines lighter. The original Spritz was sparkling white wine or red wine diluted with water.
The first evolution of “Spritz” arrived in the early 1900s, when the siphons for Seltz water became widely available. Seltz (also called soda), is carbonated water. Thanks to Seltz, which came from the German town of Selters, home of a mineral water rich in carbon dioxide, it was possible to make a sparkling Spritz using still wine. This drink became very popular in the salons of Austria and the Austrian noblewomen enjoyed the “soft” drink with a touch of glamour.
The spritz has stood the test of time. Today there are an infinite variety of possible additions such as a bitter liqueur like Aperol or Campari, various fruit syrups such as sambucco (not the licorice flavored Greek drink but a syrup made from the fragrant sambucco flower) and Prosecco.
The Hugo is a popular new spritz – Prosecco, soda water, sambucco, mint leaves and some lemon over ice. My favorite is the Eppi spritz served in a large wine glass – Prosecco, sambucco, dark cherry syrup over ice and with a final rub of lemon rind on the rim of the glass. The barmen make the spritz and all the other drinks with what I would say call a passion and professionalism for getting it right. After 18:00 the barmen at Eppinger’s take great care, in laying out an assortment of munchies – potato chips, big green olives, sun dried tomatoes, sesame sticks, small squares of tomato foccacia, small baguette toasts, a creamy cheese spread to nibble on while sipping that perfect spritz. The hustle and bustle of the morning rush seems to intensify at aperitivo time. But the feeling is very much relaxed – people chatting and just plain enjoying being out and about socializing with friends, family, and enjoying a spritz – brindisi per tutti – La Vita Triestina!
(Info from articles this week in Il Piccolo)