The Bitter Apertif That Your Bar Needs

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In celebration of their new organic Tea House Collection, we partnered with Pure Leaf Iced Tea to mix up a fruity, herbal spritz inspired by their Black Tea with a hint of Wild Blackberry and Sage.

Spritz, according to Talia Baiocchi, co-author of the recently published bar book on the subject, isn't just a cocktail. It's a way of life. It's more than the sum of its bitter and bubbly parts—it's a moment during the day to just take a minute, take a sip, and sit back. I support the spritz life, and I like it present in my home.

Smashed Blackberry Sage Spritz
Smashed Blackberry Sage Spritz

My love of bitter aperitifs began, unsurprisingly, when I was a college student living in Italy for several months. (Wine became a good friend, too, there.) I returned home loving Negronis, Prosecco, and vermouth, and when I had amassed a proper bar, I made them for myself, my friends, even my mom. Bitter, chinotto-tinged Campari; sweet, ruby-red Cappelletti; light-of-foot, orange-y Aperol—these bottles have paraded in and out of my kitchen for many years now.

And, more recently, Suze—a strongly herbaceous French gentian liqueur—has been dazzling me. While the thrill of its availability in the U.S. is not as exciting anymore (its been around since the 1880s, but only first imported to America in 2012), tinkering with and blending it into other drinks at home still feels relatively new. I love its electric green color and how it kind of punches you in the mouth with flavor. This is not a bashful aperitif, but its herbal, citrus, and bitter qualities can be harnessed and complimented, made graceful. A perfect candidate for spritz-ing.

My Suze-ed up spritz calls for a muddle of blackberries and sage, topped with the aperitif, simple syrup, and lime juice. It's then shaken (or stirred, if you're scaling it up to pitcher-size for a crowd) and poured over ice in a wine glass. Topped off with Prosecco and this is as refreshing, and interesting, as it gets. I think this a wildly adaptable cocktail. I like it heavy on the Suze, but you can dial it back and pile in the simple syrup, blackberries, and Prosecco if you want it just a hint herbal (and more fruit-foward). Garnish it with sage instead of muddling it in (or do both). And then get to working Suze into your other drinks as soon as possible.

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Smashed Blackberry Sage Spritz

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Serves 1
  • 1 to 2 whole fresh blackberries
  • 3 to 4 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 ounces Suze
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 dash simple syrup (1:1 water to sugar)
  • Prosecco, to top

Pure Leaf Tea House Collection is a trio of organic iced teas that sport a fruit or herb companion, like organic Black Tea with a hint of Wild Blackberry and Sage. See all three flavors here.

Tags: pure leaf, tea house collection, blackberries, sage, spritz