Back in 2015, on a mid-length artistic sojourn in Florence, 6pm in the city typified the ‘golden hour’. Long days were spent jostling for position in the Uffizi gallery or absorbing the wisdom of our guides in the slightly more peaceful Palazzo Medici and of course Pitti Palace. By late afternoon, naturally a genuine thirst had been built up, which meant crossing the Arno to Santa Spirito. At the turn of the evening with the square a spectacle of gold due to the descending sun, there would be slew of likeminded folk meandering through the medieval nooks and crannies in search of a refreshing drink. One by one, out of each bar came someone holding an effervescent, well-iced, bright orange drink, which was the Aperol spritz.
The Italians have been perfecting the spritz for decades. Since its inception, this bubbly-and-bitter concoction – made of three parts Prosecco, two parts Aperol, and one part soda, served with an orange wedge garnish has become the go-to drinks opener for the night ahead in hotter climates. Despite its radiant image, it is a rather unpretentious cocktail, as it's inexpensive, easy to make, is low in alcohol and is designed for the aperitivo hour, which embodies the essence of Italian culture.