It must be a slow newsweek. Why else would a hot take on a light, fizzy cocktail send shock waves through social media Thursday?
The spark that triggered the outrage is . . . the Aperol Spritz. Yes, the Italian cocktail made with the bitter-leaning, low-alcohol pre-meal spirit, along with prosecco, club soda and an orange slice.
Specifically, that spark came in the form of a column published posted by the New York Times, boldly headlined "The Aperol Spritz Is Not a Good Drink." The author of the hit piece is Rebekah Peppler, a writer whose new book about the French - aha! - cocktail hour, "Apéritif," was nominated for a James Beard Award.
But it seems she has had an unexplained change of heart since writing the book. In "Apéritif," she notes that Campari and Aperol, though not French, "deserve their respective 3 inches on your apéro bar cart." She even gives an endorsement for the drink she later disparaged, noting that Aperol ("saccharine at best," she says in the Times) is "best suited for use in cocktails with a lighter, brighter touch, like the Aperol Spritz."
That's a far cry from her splashiest shot in the Times: The Aperol Spritz is "something that drinks like a Capri Sun after soccer practice on a hot day. Not in a good way."
Frankly, I'm not sure there is a bad way to have a Capri Sun after soccer practice, other than the inevitable struggle to get the straw through the danged punch hole. Even if soccer practice isn't the place you see when you close your eyes and sip a spritz, I suspect what most imbibers are imagining is, oh, the Piazza San Marco in Venice, a city where the spritz is practically a way of life - at least according to another piece published in the Times in 2010.
Fans of the drink and perhaps this Italian idyll were naturally ready with equally strong condemnation - and other observations, with at least a few nods of agreement, on Twitter:
Is this a Bret Stephens column? Also,
“there is no such thing as a bad capri sun after soccer practice on a hot day.”
"It's rich that the 'aperol spritz is not a good drink' discourse is coming from the same outlet that once suggested I put damn peas in my guacamole"
"this is the worst opinion of 2019"
“I agree with @nytimes. Why would anyone have a Tizer-like Aperol Spritz when you could have a Campari Soda or even an Americano?” (from chef Nigella Lawson)
Perhaps Grub Street's take - "Entire Internet Agrees Aperol Spritz Is, in Fact, Good" - was a bit exaggerated, as the Entire Internet is wont to be, but the drink's supporters have certainly made themselves heard.
Another source of consternation for Peppler seems to be the hashtagged (#spritzlife) social media stylings that have proliferated around the Aperol Spritz. After all, would the disdain for rosé be as powerful without the ubiquitous #roseallday? As Peppler notes, the attention surrounding the Aperol Spritz may be in no small part due to an aggressive campaign by Campari America, the makers of Aperol. That campaign was somewhat more generously documented in a piece published by the Times in 2018 - what a difference a year makes! Included in that piece was the statistic that sales of Aperol rose almost 50 percent between 2017 and 2018.
Peppler offers several alternative spritz recipes to the Aperol version, but I, for one, would not be shocked if she accomplishes exactly the opposite of what she wanted to do - instead inspiring people to make or order an Aperol Spritz out of solidarity or just plain curiosity.
Then again, these things tend to blow over and go flat, just like an Aperol Spritz left out too long in the sun . . . on a soccer field.