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Aperol spritzes up afternoons at Solaire |


Aperol spritzes up afternoons at Solaire

THE BACONMAN COMETH - Sharwin Tee - The Philippine Star
Aperol spritzes up afternoons at Solaire
Solaire served the classic Aperol Spritz along with three other variants.

You mean it’s not 4 p.m.?” My podcast co-host Chef Ed asked as he rushed towards me.

I responded by showing him my invitation, which stated that the event started at 5 p.m., and we laughed at the confusion. Sometimes, there can be confusion about when things begin.

Take, for example, today’s star, the Aperol Spritz. Now a well loved drink, there is a little bit of confusion about when it was actually born. The Aperol aperitif was actually created in 1919. At a time when people began to like drinking a pre-dinner drink, brothers Luigi and Silvio Barbieri created an aperitif with strong herbal and citrus notes, a refined bitterness and a beautiful, orange-red color. It was a hit.

The “spritz” part of the drink, however, came much later. When the 1950s came along, the combination of Aperol, Prosecco and soda caught fire, probably inspired by the German “spritzer,” and the rest is history.

The Margherita pizza from Finestra is just excellent.

For some, the birth of Aperol in 1919 should be considered the birth of the Aperol Spritz, but for some, it should be the 1950s, when the drink’s modern form was created.

“It doesn’t matter,” assures Joy Wassmer from Solaire, who sees our confusion. Together with my friend Krizia Cortez, also of Solaire, they led us to the terrace just outside Finestra, Solaire’s Italian steakhouse. A server holding an Aperol Spritz immediately greeted me. I knew right then that the afternoon would go splendidly.

“Oh, that’s lovely,” I said, after taking a sip of Solaire’s version of the now iconic drink. I realized I was talking to no one in particular, and wasn’t even sure if I meant the drink or the view from Finestra’s terrazo. The drink was cool and refreshing, the carbonation further gives it a welcome vitality, keeping the bitterness at a pleasant minimum. The Manila Bay sunset was giving off its signature orange hue, matching the now familiar orange-red tones of Aperol.

The Barbieri brothers were seeking to create a lighter aperitif to be enjoyed in the early evenings of Padua. Little did they know that lightness, combined with the citrus undertones, make the Aperol Spritz perfect for balmy Manila afternoons.

“Ooh, I like that,” commented chef Ed as he took a sip of the Italian Job, Solaire’s modified version of the Aperol Spritz, with Campari, Amaretto and lemon juice joining the party.

Meanwhile, I found great satisfaction in the Aperol Sour, where the Padua City aperitif is mixed with lemon juice, simple syrup and egg whites. Krizia enjoyed the 2021, a combination of Aperol, tonic and green olive brine, which gives the drink a different depth. Each version of the drink was spectacular in its own right, distinct but keeping the signature refreshing feeling.

As if on cue, the food started to arrive. Finestra has created a menu of finger food and snacks to enjoy with their Aperol drinks. First, a pizza Margherita was served straight out of their oven, and it was glorious, the crust with hints of crispness from the blisters and wonderfully chewy in the center. The sauce, cheese and fresh basil were fresh and all in their glory. I wanted to get just one slice, but even the server knew it was a failing battle, smiling as I hesitated before taking a second slice.

We were then served some marinated green olives. My mom’s favorite when I was younger, I grew up never understanding the appeal, but as I popped one into my mouth, I was thankful that my culinary training made me more open to trying — and more importantly, accepting — new flavors. I’m thankful because marinated olives became a favorite about 10 years ago, and these particular ones from Finestra are lovely.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spied chef Edward biting into a breadstick wrapped in Parma ham and wasted no time in getting one, too. Each of these snacks, including the smoked salmon mini sandwiches and creamy croquettes, wonderfully flavored on their own, indeed made the Aperol drinks even better.

Parma ham-wrapped breadsticks make for perfect bites.

“Hi, chef. Do you remember me?” asked Michelle, who once hosted a students’ cooking competition where I was a mentor. As I leaned in for hug, I laughed that she would think I would forget. I introduced her to chef Edward, who, it turns out, will be working with Michelle soon.

Then, more introductions were made with Joy, Krizia and the others, and soon the conversations were flowing. I came into this event not sure how long I would stay, but the conversation, the food, the ambience plus the Aperol drinks and the chill vibes they produced induced me to stay a little longer.

As the sun set on us by the Finestra terrazo, little lights came on, making it clear that we were welcome to stay a little longer. I glanced at my watch but the time barely registered. I grabbed another glass of Aperol Sour and began to hunt down the server carrying the tray of pizza.

There are many ways to spend a summer afternoon in Manila, but I would venture to guess that not many could top an afternoon at Solaire, made sparkling with an Aperol Spritz.

* * *

Sharwin’s book, The Gospel of Food, is now available in National Book Stores nationwide plus Amazon, Shopee and Lazada. Follow Sharwin’s food adventures on Instagram @chefsharwin and for questions, reactions, recipe and column suggestions, you can contact him on

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