bar swift's spritz cocktail
A Spritz at Bar Swift in London, where Mia Johansson is managing director (Photo: Lateef Photography)
Columns 18 June 2021

It’s set to be the summer of the Spritz

London’s happiest bartender and bar Swift co-creator Mia Johansson says that this summer, the Spritz cocktail is set to be more popular than ever

Words by Mia Johansson

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Anyone who knows me knows that my middle name is Spritz. I’m a big fan of the cocktail because it’s perfectly versatile and approachable, it’s fun and it’s refreshing, and it doesn’t cost your entire salary to order one.

But this summer, the Spritz will be the perfect drink. It’s visually beautiful and effervescent and it just celebrates life. It’s a great drink to toast to the world coming back alive, to feeling vibrant and to everything bubbling up to the surface.

The Spritz is generally a great cocktail for the summer months thanks to its versatility. Originally, it would have been made with a Prosecco or a fortified wine. The cocktail originated in Italy, where drinks would be built on with the addition of soda or Prosecco – that’s how we ended up with the Americano and with the Sbagliato.

Swift cocktail bar
The team at Swift serve their Spritzes with elderflower liqueur or packed with fresh fruits for a vibrant summer serve
Spritz cocktails

Today, people tend to want something to start off their drinking, something that’s not too strong, mixed with soda and some sparkling wine. You need a base, like an aperitif – something to whet the palate, like Campari or vermouth. Then you need a little bit of sugar content, as you’ll be drying things out by using a Prosecco – and it definitely needs some effervescence.

It’s a good cocktail for the daytime. If you’re drinking something like cider, you’ve got a lot of liquid to drink that’s not going to get you too boozy too quickly. But if you’re drinking Manhattans, Martinis and Margaritas at 2pm, you’re only going to last for a couple of hours.

When we started Swift five years ago, we wanted to mirror the daytime experience of the European and American bar scenes. In the UK, you have the pub, beer gardens or hotel bars, but there weren’t dedicated cocktail bars that were excellent at their craft opening in the daytime. At Swift, we had the possibility of making low-ABV drinks that can last you through to the evening.

MIA AND BOBBY
Mia Johansson and Bobby Hiddleston, the husband-and-wife team behind both Swift bars in London

For me, the Spritz is perfect for this – it’s something you can indulge in and enjoy in the daytime without feeling like you’re having to cosy down in a dark basement. Because drinking is supposed to be something that’s fun, and not just something exclusive that you have to save up to do every month.

It’s the perfect drink to bring us all together this summer

We have a Spritz menu throughout the summer at Swift, which we call the Aperitivo menu. It sits beautifully between opening time and 7pm across both sites [Shoreditch and Soho]. It’s kind of like our happy hour – but we call it the “happier hour”.

Swift cocktail bar
Bartender making a Spritz
The bar in Shoreditch is as geared towards daytime cocktails as the Soho original

If you’re mixing a Spritz at home, you can use a low-ABV base or a smaller measurement of gin, for example, and a balance of Prosecco and soda. Or you can even take the drink down the Crémant route, using St-Germain or elderflower liqueur at the base. You can make it in a lovely jug with some mint leaves, chopped-up strawberries, fresh fruit and citrus. This summer is all about bringing back nostalgic, retro flavours like passion fruit, mango, watermelon and strawberry. Just so long as you’re using fresh ingredients and you have something a bit sweet or something that has a kick to it in the mix – that could even be Tequila or vodka.

Ultimately, thanks to its sweet, fresh flavours and bubbles, the Spritz is something that is for everyone; something that suits yourself, your grandma, your mum and your best friends all at the same time. No matter who you are or how old you are, it’s the perfect drink to bring us all together. What could be better suited to our long-overdue summer reunions?

Mia Johansson

Mia Johansson is managing director of Swift Soho and Swift Shoreditch cocktail bars in London. Both bars are back open and taking bookings at barswift.com.

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