Spritz Bar: The Ultimate Brunch Upgrade This Spring

Winter holidays may get all of the shine, but spring has so much to celebrate: spring holidays, Mother’s Day, graduations, and more. These occasions usually call for my favorite style of hosting: elegant but effortless brunch. I much prefer to host a spring brunch than a winter holiday; it gives me the perfect excuse to break out my favorite party trick: The Spritz Bar

The Inspiration Behind the Spritz Bar: the Aperol Spritz

Let’s start with the cocktail itself. If you already know a spritz, chances are it’s the Aperol Spritz. Aperol—the bittersweet, bright orange Italian apéritif that forms the backbone of the cocktail—was created in 1919 in Padua, with the eponymous spritz rising to popularity in the 1950s. Maybe because it’s so Instagrammable, the classic Italian pre-dinner drink suddenly became America’s favorite low-ABV, fun-to-photograph cocktail by the 2020s, and therefore a new queen of the brunch circuit.  And for good reason: It’s light, refreshing, a stunning color, and foolproof to make. Plus, it’s perfectly balanced thanks to herbaceous apéritif mixed with sweet yet tart prosecco. 

But what about the reigning queen of brunch, the mimosa? There’s room for two at the top, says Juliana McIntosh (aka @join_jules), host of The Art of Drinking podcast and overall CEO of Spritz Season. McIntosh loves slinging up spritzes for brunch because, “simply, they are tastier and more unique than a mimosa,” she says. The pleasantly bitter apéritif is designed “to open” your stomach and spark your appetite, making it the perfect accompaniment to a festive brunch. 

How to Set Up a Spritz Bar at Your Next Brunch

Making an Aperol Spritz is easy, and it’s a recipe that’s easy to remember: According to McIntosh, the classic ratio is 3:2:1 (3 parts prosecco, 2 parts Aperol, and 1 part soda). It’s just pouring over ice and stirring, which means this is the perfect cocktail for a DIY Spritz Bar. 

Here’s all you need to do: Set chilled bottles of prosecco and sparkling water in a beverage tub with lots of ice to keep things cold. Then, place a bottle or two of Aperol front and center on the table (that’s already pretty!). Pro move: Add a few liqueurs that make great spritzes, like limoncello or St-Germain elderflower liqueur, for more options. (To make sure everyone can get in on the fun, incorporate a mocktail option, too. Mixers like homemade lemonade or berry purees can be a fun, alcohol-free way to enjoy a sparkling beverage.)

Finish the spread with a garnish board in the style of a charcuterie board: sliced citrus, green olives, cherries, berries, and even fresh herbs for your guests to use to customize their cocktails. It’s pretty, it’s fun, it’s easy.

A New Face at the Spritz Bar: the Lambrusco Spritz

Not sure your guests will vibe with the bitter flavor notes of Aperol (although McIntosh says she loves the flavor so much she adds more Aperol to her spritz)? Here’s a different spin for your Spritz Bar: Lambrusco, a sparkling red wine from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. McIntosh predicts the Lambrusco Spritz–the ratio is just 3 parts wine to 1 part soda, poured over lots of ice–will be all the rage this year. “A Lambrusco Spritz can be garnished with fresh citrus, olives, even olive oil,” she says. “It makes for such an Instagramable moment while also having out-of-this-world flavor. Plus, it broadens horizons beyond our Aperol Spritz obsession.” 

So crack the bubbly and get ready to entertain with ease this spring. Remember to have fun with it. As McIntosh notes, “Our eyes drink first,” so don’t be afraid to get a little extra with the garnishes!