The Aperol Spritz — a straightforwardly named concoction of soda water, prosecco and orange liqueur — is as much cultural birthright in its native Italy as it is an aperitivo. The drink’s origins hark back to the 19th century: when Habsburg soldiers occupying Veneto used water to dilute the region’s local wines in an effort to make them more palatable. Though they were eventually expelled from Italy, the Austrians left their ‘wine-and-something weaker’ legacy behind. By 1920, Italian bartenders had begun adding soda to the equation; and the traditional alcoholic base was substituted in favour of fruit-flavoured liqueurs such as Aperol. The low ABV, semi-sweet aperitif was first released in 1919, and would go on to achieve popularity in North America and the UK a few decades later: thanks in part to ingenious marketing involving its marriage with fizzes like lemonade and sparkling wine. Lo and behold, the Aperol Spritz as we know it was born.
In 2019, the classic pre-dinner cooler is once again experiencing something of a golden era. Sun kissed Instagram models flaunt Aperol Spritzes atop cliffs and catamarans — complete with a mountain of ‘Spritz Life’ hashtags — whereas many city-bound professionals quaff theirs by the pitcher, charmed by the carefree insouciance that Aperol’s appearance suggests. Here then — just in case you’ve yet to discover this staple of the cocktail world — are five of our favourite Aperol Spritz bars in Hong Kong: guaranteed to help you keep your cool this summer!
At Duecento Otto — JIA Group’s perennially buzzy New York-inspired eatery — the Aperol Spritz has always been a favourite (if the constant Thursday night crowds are any indication). The light refreshing cocktail is a core part of the venue’s weeknight programming: available Monday to Friday at half price; or as part of an early evening spread of ‘two for one’ with antipasti. One caveat: 208’s Spritzes are made the old fashioned way (e.g. Aperol, La Moscheta, soda) but batched and served on tap — perfect for a balmy mid-summer’s eve in Sheung Wan.
208 Duecento Otto, 208 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2549 0208
Bella Lee is another (relative) newcomer to the eclectic bar scene at the heart of Peel Street. Occupying the space formerly inhabited by soju bar Edition, this is a popular spot for work-weary denizens looking to kick start their Friday night festivities — proscuitto e melone and kaleidoscopic array of spritzers in hand. The latter are collectively dubbed the ‘Rainbow’ section of the menu; and offer everything from the classic Aperol-based mainstay to more adventurous recipes tinged with a hint of mixological madness. (Tie-dye aficionados should opt to tie one on with a spritzer flavoured using blue Curacao.)
Bella Lee, 37 Peel Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 6708 7068
When Kytaly — Franco Pepe’s sbagliata slinging Wyndham Street bolthole — opened in 2018, all talk centred on it being the purveyor of Hong Kong’s best (and priciest) pizza. There’s no denying that Neapolitan pies are still the star draw, but the venue’s elevated location and verdant terrace (about twice the size of the dining room) make it a ripe addition to our list of ‘best in class’ joints for aperitivo. Refreshing, pizza-friendly cocktails abound on the menu — in fact, drinks are an area in which KYTALY delivers a damn sight more than even your average Central watering hole. Skip through the predictable and order the ‘Better Spritz’: a supercharged riff on the eponymous cocktail which broadens its citric appeal through use of Cedrata and mandarin bitters.
Kytaly, 77 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2808 1961
Despite the omnipresent threat of a torrential downpour, al fresco bars are bigger than ever in Hong Kong. Case in point — Ichu. This summer, the H Queen’s hot spot is going beyond superlative Peruvian cuisine, with the addition of a linoleum-clad fountain that will provide guests with an unlimited bounty of pre-batched Aperol Spritzers. Head Chef Sang Jeong touts the beverage’s great potential for pairing with dishes like ceviche and anticucho, so it’s no surprise that Ichu are running a promotion on the former all summer. A two hour free-flow package for the Aperol Spritz fountain is available from 3–7pm daily.
Ichu, 3/F, H Queen’s, 80 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2477 7717
Trust Black Sheep Restaurants to come up with a venue which has a fair bit of narrative meat on its bones: Paying tribute to the tiny eateries which ring the perimeter at Florence’s largest train station, Stazione Novella is a SoHo café-slash-drinking den that takes sandwiches and spritzers extremely seriously. It was among the first venues in Hong Kong to preach the gospel of Aperol, and is still probably the best place to enjoy an unfussy aperitivo. Every Monday, glasses and pitchers of the stuff are sold at saintly prices; while the Italian spirit is also available alfresco at a series of block parties regularly thrown by Stazione Novella. (The next such ‘Summer of Spritz’ event is scheduled to take place on 5 August.)
Stazione Novella, 52-56 Staunton Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2559 0559