Last weekend, the chalkboard in front of a well-known pub in Fulham tantalizingly proclaimed: “Prosecco Spritz!”. It seems another piece of evidence attesting to the (almost) household popularity reached in the UK by the fresh, unpretentious Italian drink originated a long time ago in Veneto, the large industrialized region surrounding Venice.

With its bright orange complexion, this variant of a Spritz – a refreshing “dilution” of Wine - is based on a simple recipe: 3 parts of Prosecco D.O.C., 2 parts of Aperol, 1 splash of soda. Add abundant ice and a twist of orange to complete the Venetian Spritz!

It seems that the tradition of diluting wine with bitter began as a common practice by Austrian soldiers during the Habsburg domination of North-East Italy in the 1800s, as they found Italian wines too bold, especially when contrasted with Austrian beers. To this day, elderly people in that area of Italy still commonly order water-diluted wine in bars.

Prosecco is a key ingredient in the Spritz and surely one of the reasons among the latter’s success. A sparkling wine produced from the Glera grape in the hills of a narrow area in North-East Italy, Prosecco has enjoyed a recent, growing worldwide popularity, both with experts and the public. According to the Italian Sparkling Wine Observatory (OVSE), in 2013, global sales of Prosecco outranked those of Champagne for the first time.

The Prosecco is DOC, meaning “certified”, when produced according to strict legal regulations in a specific geographical area. Only Prosecco DOC is entitled to be part of an outstanding Spritz!

Aperol, another distinctive ingredient of this trendy cocktail, was first launched in Padua, one hour south of Venice, by the Barbieri Brothers in 1919 and became eventually popular in the 1960s owing, in particular, to a famous TV ad campaign on RAI, the Italian State-owned broadcasting company.

In 2011, the International Bartender Association included Spritz Veneziano among its New Era Drinks.

When the sun begins to set, you can easily spot throngs of youths buzzing outside of Italian bars while sipping the most sociable of all cocktails. But what has brought Spritz from the tiny, crowded bars dotting the Venice canals and the small countryside villages of Veneto to the refurbished taverns in Fitzrovia?

The popularity of Prosecco Spritz owes to multiple factors: the Prosecco, of course, with its unique flavor and freshness; the low-alcohol content, which makes it extremely enjoyable for aperitifs and an extensive global network of Italian-owned bars promoting the drink abroad.

The cocktail holds some resemblance with Pimm’s: they are both fresh, low-alcohol drinks, perfectly suited for summer evenings. Yet, Spritz is more bitter-sweet and, unlike Pimm’s, is a four season cocktail.

Prosecco Spritz is easy to make, even at home. You can prepare it by using Prosecco Valdobbiadene DOCG Superiore Extra Dry by Casabianca, available on the online store Libiamo Wines.

Involve your friends in the preparation of Spritz during a Christmas party and even pretend you are all in Venice, enjoying life and friendship in a dreamlike night in Italy.