Well before “Negroni Sbagliato . . . with prosecco in it” raced across the Internet this fall, denizens of the North Shore were exploring effervescent drinks beyond the Aperol Spritz. From the Agave Glow, a beguiling mix of tequila blanco, Aperol, St. Germain, passion fruit, and prosecco at The Stones Common House & Kitchen in Stoneham to the Siren Spritz at 1606 in Gloucester, which blends Grey Goose, Campari, ruby red grapefruit, and cinnamon with bubbles, a wide variety of options for a festive sparkling cocktail dot the area.
“Bubbles make you happy,” says beverage director for the Tuscan Brands Jose Luis Betancur, who put together an entire spritz menu at Tuscan Market in Portsmouth. “[A spritz] is a perfect introduction to a dinner or hosting an event. It makes you smile . . . it makes you happy.”
Indeed, while many people connect the spritz with Aperol and summertime, bubbles are welcome year-round. “I don’t think that sparkling [cocktails] really have a season,” says Lisa Beattie, manager/owner at The Stones. “We always seem to have at least one cocktail on our list that has a bit of bubbles in it. [It is] always a crowd pleaser.”
In addition to inspiring armloads of cheer, sparkling cocktails—especially spritzes, which call for soda water in addition to sparkling wine—can be lower in alcohol than other types of mixed drinks. This makes them suitable for sipping over the course of an evening. And they can pack a big wow factor for small effort on the part of a host—many are mixed right in the glass, and ingredients other than the sparkling wine and soda water can be batched ahead of time.
Take that Sbagliato, for example. The drink, which became wildly popular coast to coast after Emma D’Arcy mentioned it during an interview promoting House of the Dragon on HBO’s TikTok account, is quite simple. Equal parts sweet vermouth and Campari can be batched ahead of time in a pitcher, and even measured out in wine glasses, just waiting to be topped with sparkling wine and ice when the guests arrive. Don’t want to make it yourself? It’s likely to turn up on the menu at Tuscan Sea Grill for the winter season, Betancur hints.
Want something a bit less Hollywood and a little more North Shore? Stones’ Beattie suggests a Cranberry Ginger Spritz: a shot of Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur with a little cranberry juice, sparkling wine, and a cranberry garnish. “It tastes amazing and looks very festive,” she says.
In fact, you can turn just about anything into a spritz, Betancur says. “You can play with many things,” he says, including seasonal ingredients like cinnamon, fig, cranberry, and apple, balancing a fruit component or something sweet with some bitterness or extra complexity, plus the bubbles. To prove his point, he riffed on a spritz on the spot—whipping up a blend of Amaro Montenegro, lemon juice, prosecco, and soda water, garnished with a cinnamon stick and a rosemary sprig, to produce a drink that felt both festive and refreshing.
Betancur likes using Italian amaro in spritzes because of the complex botanicals. For example, Montenegro includes cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, orange, and vanilla. “Those components offer a very wintry flavor profile,” he says. If you wanted to go in a different direction, he adds, Amaro Lucano or Fernat will bring a minty component to a drink. Contrary to what you’d imagine, he advises adding the ice, if you’re using, at the end of the drink, explaining that pouring sparkling wine over ice will immediately disperse the bubbles.
The one thing Betancur says you should not change? If you want a true spritz, the sparkling wine should be prosecco, made in the Veneto region of Italy from Glera grapes. Prosecco is more citrusy and less complex than Champagne, he says, noting that in a spritz, you want the complexity to come from your other ingredients. That’s good news for a party, as Betancur says you can pick up a nice bottle of prosecco for under $20.
With a bottle of sparkling wine, some seltzer, and whatever else suits your fancy, you’ve always got a party in the making, says Tara Doody, beverage manager at the Beauport Hotel.
“Bubbles are the ultimate celebratory drink,” she says. “People immediately feel like they are having a special night with a glass of something sparkling in their hand.”
By Jose Luis Betancur, Tuscan Sea Grill
1.5 oz. Amaro Montenegro
0.5 oz. fresh-squeezed lemon Juice
3 oz. prosecco
1 oz. seltzer
1. Add Prosecco, followed by lemon juice, Amaro Montenegro, and seltzer water to a wine glass.
2. Add ice and stir.
3. Serve with lemon wheel, cinnamon stick, and large rosemary sprig for garnish