Spaghett About It

This summer’s easiest cocktail is an Italian take on a shot and a beer. 

Photo: Photo by Huge Galdones / Food Styling by Christina Zerkis

Easy-drinking cocktails are the way to go in summer. First, we slipped booze into our seltzer cans and turned them into cocktails, launching the booming canned ready-to-drink cocktail trend. But there's another fun category of easy cocktails that simply requires that you drink the top ounce or so from the neck of a bottle, then replace that volume with a shot of spirits. You'll find people all over West Texas drinking a version of this; the baseline version of Ranch Water calls for an icy bottle of Top Chico, a glug of blanco tequila, and a squeeze of fresh lime.

But the best and the brightest has to be the Spaghett. It starts with a chug off a bottle of Miller High Life, to which you'll add Aperol and lemon juice. Personally, I like to forgo the lemon and add the bracing bitterness of Campari for a no-fuss, two-ingredient cocktail.

Some say the Spaghett represents the beer-based version of the wildly popular Aperol Spritz or Campari Spritz, but I think it's more of a low-rent Negroni, combining the "Champagne of Beers" with a potent red bitter.

The name, alternatively spelled Spagett, refers to the red sauce-loving character from the "Tim and Eric Awesome Show" on Adult Swim. The Aperol version of the drink originated in 2016 at Wet City Brewery in Baltimore, and was created by opening bartender Reed Cahill in homage to the messy fellow.

No matter where you drink it, it's a head turner, the classic clear glass bottle revealing the sunset glow of the contents within. Order one at a bar and a crowd will gather. Serve one at a barbecue, and everyone will join in.

Bartender Ryan Rezvani was working a shift at Chicago's Long Room when a regular first asked for a Spaghett. "I thought he was a little nuts, but I made one for myself and one for him and I was hooked," Rezvani says. He pours the ounce and a half of High Life as a sidecar in a rocks glass (or he admits, sometimes he drinks it himself as an employee bonus), then adds an ounce of Aperol, half an ounce of lemon juice and a couple of dashes of citrus bitters made by Bitter Ex, his artisan bitters company, "for bitter oomph and a citrus blast."

Spiked beer has been flying across the bar ever since, sparked in part by the popularity of Italian bitter apertivi and amari. Says Rezvani, "I used to explain to people at least once a day what bitters were, now people know and love them." Soon he and his friends started adding every spirit they could grab to the neck of their High Lifes, and naming the results after pasta shapes. "I think with Cynar was called a 'Linguin,' and Berto makes it a "Raviol.'"

Will macaroni cocktails become a thing? I'll be expanding my apertivo collection and stockpiling Miller High Life just in case.

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