Do you know your Spritz? Only a few years ago London was none the wiser, but then this orange-hued aperitif started appearing in bars, restaurants and pubs all over the capital. Light, zingy and refreshing, it is a perfect summertime sip and while it may never be as popular as beer in ol' Blighty (like it is in Venice), it's certainly worth trying.
What? More than being a refreshing and tasty drink, the Spritz has a long story to tell: the word comes from Germany and means splash/sparkling. The drink itself dates back to the Habsburg domination in the Republic of Venice during the 19th century, when Habsburgian soldiers and merchants used to ask for a 'spritz' of water in their wine, in order to make it lighter. Originating in North Italy, the concoction has now spread around the world.
How? The original Aperol Spritz is made with 2/3 Prosecco, 1/3 Aperol and a splosh of soda water. Last but not least, don't forget to add a slice of orange and a green olive. Campari is also widely used in place of Aperol, and now many barmen are even making their own versions.
Where? Here is a round-up of bars, pubs and restaurants serving the popular orange drink. Most of the places listed were suggested to us by readers and we've personally tried most of them (all in the name of research, of course). Here they are divided by area.
Augustus Harris, 33 Catherine Street, WC2B 5JT
With a name mixing Latin and English, this central restaurant has a menu inspired by typical Venetian bàcari (tiny local eateries). Expect typical Venetian food to be digested with either Aperol or Campari Spritz. Spritz for £7
Boopshi's Schniltzel & Spritzers, 31 Windmill Street, W1T 2JN
The Austrian restaurant with a homely atmosphere specialises in serving traditional schnitzel and... Spritzers (remember about the history of Spritz?). Their Spritzers are numbered from 1 to 8 including ones with added sherbet, morello cherry and cucumber. If those aren't to your taste, never fear, there's still another five to pick from. Spritz from £8.50
Caffe' Caldesi, 118 Marylebone Lane, W1U 2QF
This rustic, home-style Italian restaurant run by Giancarlo and Katie Caldesi offers a dedicated bar/cafe downstairs with loads of typical Italian aperitifs, plus a sit-down restaurant upstairs. Both spaces are Italian through-and-through and their classic Aperol Spritz can be enjoyed within either. Spritz for £8.50
Polpo, Soho, Covent Garden, Smithfield, Chelsea and Notting Hill
Russell Norman’s trendy set of Venetian-inspired small plate restaurants present humble but hearty Italian dishes made for sharing and typical Venetian drinks. There are branches throughout central London: we suggest you try their basement Aperol Bar, which is part of their branch in Covent Garden and their Negroni Bar, which is part of the Smithfield branch. Polpo was also included in our round-up of London's best Italian restaurants. Spritz for £7.50
Princi, 135 Wardour Street, W1F 0UT
This London outpost of a popular Milanese bakery chain offers a wide variety of Italian food, from breakfast to dinner. You can choose between the self-service area or the restaurant section, although the latter offers you the chance to try their Princi Aperol Spritz plus a small range of other Italian-inspired cocktails (including the moreish Rhubarb Negroni). Spritz from £7.50
TOZI, 8 Gillingham Street, SW1V 1HJ
This vibrant restaurant and bar based in Victoria specialises in Venetian cicchetti and classic Italian cocktails. The restaurant was set up by Italian chefs and offers the dining ethos of the Veneto region. They serve Aperol Spritz as well as the TOZI Spritz — a twist on the classic which features vermouth, fresh rosemary, Prosecco and dash of ginger ale. Spritz from £10
The Blues Kitchen, Camden, Shoreditch, Brixton
A proper Camden institution and a staple of any night out in the area, this is an American fun-time bar, restaurant and live music venue with additional branches in Shoreditch and Brixton. Listed as one of London's best bars for drinking whisky, here they serve Spritz variations as well. Spritz for £9.75
Vivo, 57-58 Upper Street, Islington N1 0NY
This Italian bakery-and-cafe-in-one is based in Islington and boasts a Tuscan-style roof terrace with its very own Spritz menu. Alongside the traditional varieties, they also serve the in-house Vivo Spritz that comes with elderflower liqueur from Florence along with Prosecco, fresh mint and lime. Spritz from £7.90
Frank’s Cafe, 10th Floor, Peckham Multi-Story Carpark 95A Rye Lane, SE15 4ST
Perched atop the multi-story car park in Peckham, Frank’s has been drawing big crowds for the past few years. The view of London at this summer-only space is one of the best in the south, which is why we've also named it one of the best rooftop bars in London. Spritz for £7.50
Bar Elba, Mercury House Rooftop, 109-117 Waterloo Road, SE1 8UL
Cocktails and cheerful bar grub can be found at this rooftop bar opposite Waterloo station. Heaters in winter and decent happy hours are sure to keep you warm whatever time of year you're getting stuck into your Spritz. Just be ready for a walk up a few flights of stairs first. Spritz for £10.90
Peckham Springs, 22A Blenheim Grove, SE15 4QN
An outdoor bar-slash-food-market, Peckham Springs is tucked away by the arches of Peckham Rye station. But once you've found it, independent food traders and decently-priced cocktails await. The daily Happy Hour at between 6-7pm means your second Spritz will cost you just £2. Spritz for £7
Lardo, 197-205 Richmond Road, E8 3NJ
When we visited London Fields restaurant Lardo we discovered that it's an Italian with a twist. Their large selection of British charcuterie is a perfect accompaniment for the Italians' beloved Aperitivo. They serve a fine selection, including the classics plus a grapefruit-flavoured Stella Spritz. Spritz from £7.50
Ombra, 1 Vyner Street, E2 9DG
Try this Venetian bar close to London Fields — we bet your mouth will start watering when you see their fresh dishes including pasta, polenta and deep fried fish whizzing past your table. They serve Aperol, Campari and even Cynar Spritz (using a liquor made from herbs and artichokes). Also enjoy their Venetian cicchetti (nibbles) during Aperitivo time, from Thursday to Sunday. Spritz for £7.50
The Shakespeare, 2 Goswell Road, EC1M 7AA
Despite its name, this is a proper Italian pub just a few steps from Barbican tube station: their menu mixes typical Italian food with English dishes. Spritz for £6
Chairs and Coffee, 512 Fulham Road, SW6 5NJ
This tiny little cafe with chairs hanging from its roof is located close to Fulham Broadway underground station. They serve breakfasts and quick lunches during the week, or lazy brunches across the weekend. Socialising is taken seriously with laptops banned on the weekends and Aperol Spritz for just £5.50.
Gustoso Ristorante & Enoteca, 35 Willow Place, SW1P 1JH
This Italian gourmet restaurant based in Pimlico is the 'brother' of Osteria Dell' Angolo in Westminster, as they share the same owner. Gustoso includes an Aperol Spritz on its drink menu for £7.
Locanda Ottoemezzo, 2-4 Thackeray Street off Kensington Square, W8 5ET
This red-decor restaurant based close to High Street Kensington station offers Aperol Spritz in its caffe adjacent to the main restaurant. You can enjoy your own Tuesday-Saturdays from 5pm until 9.30pm. Spritz for £7.50
Rocca, 73 Old Brompton Road, Chelsea, SW7 3JS
This Chelsea-based Italian restaurant offers fresh, homemade food from a bunch of local suppliers. All bread, pasta and pizza bases are made in-house every day and that all-important Aperol and Campari Spritz is on the menu. Spritz for £7.50
Homeslice, 2 Television Centre, 101 Wood Lane, White City, W12 7FR
These pizza pros are already well-known around central London for their generous and inventively-topped pizza slices, with outlets in Covent Garden, Soho and Shoreditch. But west Londoners can now stuff their face with dough and Spritz too thanks to this new venue on the former site of BBC's Television Centre in White City. Spritz for £6.50
Be at One
Founded by three London bartenders back in 1990s, this giant cocktail bar chain offers a mighty wide variety of cocktails on its dedicated menu. Of course, Aperol Spritz finds a spot alongside all the other classics and and during Happy Hour it's buy-one-get-one-free (times vary from bar to bar but this is usually a pre-dinner offer). Spritz for £8.50
The Italian chain has restaurants all over London — even at the main airports. You can either buy food to take away or sit down and enjoy your meal, perhaps while drinking a Spritz? They serve Aperol Spritz and their own variation, the Sicilian Spritz, which blends gin, limoncello and sparkling lemon juice, topped with Prosecco. Spritz for £6.95
Jamie Oliver's chain has spread out very quickly all over London and although menus vary from restaurant to restaurant, Aperol Spritz is a regular feature in most branches. Spritz from £7.50
Other recommendations from our readers that you can try include:
Madame. D, 76 Commercial Street, E1 6LY
Osteria San Lorenzo, 22 Beauchamp Place, Knightsbridge, SW3 1NH
The Galvanisers Union, 2 Devas Street, E3 3LL
The Ivy, 1-5 West Street, WC2H 9NQ
Risorante Olivelli, Bloomsbury, Mayfair, Waterloo and Dulwich
The Hillgate, 24 Hillgate Street, W8 7SR
Capricci, 72 Holland Street, Bankside, SE1 9NX
San Carlo Cicchetti, 215 Piccadilly, W1J 9HL
Bernardi's, 62 Seymour Street, W1H 5BN
You might also like: London's best Italian restaurants
Got any top tips about where to find Spritz in London? Leave a comment below.
This article is part of our Best of London Food and Drink series. Visit the page for more recommendations of where to enjoy the capital's top food and drink, categorised by cuisine, food type and more.