In New York City, selecting the ‘drink of the summer’ is a hallowed warm-weather tradition, as inevitable as busted subway air-conditioning, blaring ice-cream-truck jingles, and promising yourself that this year, without a doubt, you’ll bike from Brooklyn to the Rockaways (and then…ya know…NOT doing that).
For this year’s Summer Sipper Supreme (ugh, sorry), the Cocktail Powers That Be went with an old-school classic, beloved by Italian grandmothers far and wide: The Aperol Spritz. The ingredients are simple: Aperol (an Italian aperitif made from bitter orange and herbs), ice cubes, some bubbly, and a citrus peel. From there, the bartender has the freedom to get weird, and Greenpoint’s best spritz-maestros take full advantage. Here are five of Greenpoint’s finest Aperol (and Aperol-adjacent) spritzes, just in time for those last drunken days of summer.
Aperol Spritz at Shayz Lounge | 130 Franklin St
Here’s the thing about Aperol Spritzes in Greenpoint: You’ve got plenty of fancy variations to choose from, and they make for some tasty and classy drinking. But sometimes, you just want to hang out in a lovable dive and drink a spritz without any bells and whistles. You want the Aperol Spritz you KNOW. And that’s exactly what you’ll get at Shayz Lounge. We love this Franklin Street classic for its cozy couch, cheap booze, and excellent back patio, which is where you’ll want to enjoy your Aperol Spritz ($10). It’s a simple but satisfying, no-frills take on the Spritz: Aperol, ice, prosecco, and a citrus twist are what you’re getting. And on a chill weekend afternoon, perched at a sunny picnic table, that’s completely perfect.
Eliot’s Spritzer at The Brooklyn Barge | 3 Milton St
When we’re talking about the best cocktails for sweltering summer days in NYC, there’s no way around it: any drink served on a boat is better than its landlubber counterparts. Doesn’t even matter if the boat stays anchored; the combination of a water view, a river breeze, and a glass full of alcohol makes for a great time. Lucky for us North Brooklynites, the Brooklyn Barge has returned to the shores of Transmitter Park, and with it comes an excellent rendition of the Aperol Spritz: the $12 Eliot’s Spritzer (Yeah, that’s right. Someone was gonna do it, Brooklyn Barge just got there first). This one’s got a base of Aperol blended with a hit of St. Germain, which tempers the bitterness with some pleasant floral notes. Top it off with some bubbles and, according to Brooklyn Barge, a “scandal in Albany” (Haha, yes. We see you, Brooklyn Barge), and you’ve got an ideal East River drinking situation.
Phil Collins at Alameda | 195 Franklin St
In the pantheon of Great Date Spots we have available to us in Greenpoint, Alameda’s pretty close to the Platonic ideal. It’s charming without being twee, inventive without being pretentious, and an all-around solid spot for a bite and a drink. Their creative cocktail list changes frequently, but for the spritz-enthusiasts among us, they’ve got a version that’s pretty tough to beat. The $11 Phil Collins (bonus points for the name, obviously) lives right where the Aperol Spritz – Tom Collins Venn diagram converges; it’s got London dry gin, Lillet Blanc, lemon juice, Aperol, and a prosecco topper. That leaves you with a super-refreshing cocktail that’s tart, herbaceous, and dangerously easy to drink. You’ve been warned.
Lickedy Spritz at Five Leaves | 18 Bedford Ave
Anyone who’s lived in Greenpoint for longer than five minutes is acutely aware of the scene at Five Leaves. It’s been THE neighborhood see-and-be-scene since it opened a decade ago, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Because getting a table for brunch at Five Leaves is a quixotic fantasy, we recommend heading over early on a weeknight, claiming a sidewalk table, and setting yourself up with a Lickedy Spritz ($12). It’s got Aperol and prosecco, sure, but it also invites some special guest stars to the party, like gin, rose simple syrup, and Peychaud’s bitters. On a late August evening, paired with some oysters and a local cheese board, it’ll definitely do you right.
Elixir Spritz at Sauvage | 905 Lorimer St
Okay, full disclosure: We’re cheating a little with this one. As a matter of fact, the Elixir Spritz ($12) at Sauvage does not contain any Aperol whatsoever. But it’s still a spritz, and it’s a damn good one, so we’ll let that slide. Instead of the aforementioned Aperol, Sauvage opts for a mix of Strega (a saffron-infused Italian liqueur) and Cappelletti (a wine-based Italian aperitif similar to Campari). The cocktail’s built over ice in a wine glass and topped with sparkling wine and a dusting of saffron to make it extra pretty. Speaking of extra-pretty, Sauvage is a gorgeous restaurant with abundant sidewalk seating, delicious Gallic cuisine, and servers clad in impossibly-jaunty uniforms. Plus, it’s located right across the street from Five Leaves, making the corner of Lorimer and Bedford the unofficial Brooklyn epicenter of That Spritz Life.