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Lush Guide to Select Aperitivo

Select Aperitivo was born in Venice in the 1920s and the key ingredient in the original Venetian Spritz!! Made with a blend of 30 botanicals, Select is the one to ask for by name when ordering what has become the most popular summer cocktail!

Sepect Spritz and Santa Maris della Salute

What is Select Aperitivo

Mario and Vittorio Pilla established their own liquor production company, Fratelli Pilla & C, in the Castello district of Venice in 1902 with the hope of contributing to the post-World War I economic and social revitalization of their hometown.

Their first spirit, Aperitivo Select, became a favorite with its signature bright red color popping up all over the city. In the 1930’s, the Pillas made the decision to move the company headquarters to Porto Marghera, which became one of the busiest industrial centers of Northern Italy.

Then during the Second World War, the factory in Porto Marghera was bombed and the Pilla brothers were forced to transfer the company to the island of Murano. Finally in 1957, Select found its home in Bologna where it has remained, now as part of Gruppo Montenegro.

Although Select remained part of Venice in spirit, it has now has a home again in Venice at the Ca Select in Cannaregio. Ca Select is a gorgeous space that retraces over a hundred years of history and celebrates the spirit of Select and its place in Venice.

Select Aperitivo Time

What is Aperitivo

To understand the popularity of Select is to understand the rise of both the aperitivo culture and the popularity of the spritz. Aperitivo is the Italian word for the tradition of sipping a light, refreshing drink before a meal to stimulate the appetite. It is typically enjoyed in the early evening, and is often accompanied by small bites of food, such as olives, cheese, or cured meats.

Although it has its origins in Turin and Milan, aperitivo was enjoyed throughout Italy and beyond, The most well-known cocktails associated with aperitivo are often bitter in taste, like the Negroni or Americano. The primary ingredient in these are bitter liqueurs or Amari (Amari is plural for Amaro, which literally means bitter in Italian) and can be consumed straight, mixed with soda water, or in cocktails.

What is a Spritz

We actually have the Germans to thank for the Spritz, aka spritzen (to spray)! In the 19th C, the Austro-Hungarian troops arrived in the Veneto and immediately began ordering Italian wine, as one does.

The urban myth is that this wine was a tad stronger than they were used to, so they spritzed a bit of water to make the wine a bit more drinkable. Thus, the Spritz cocktail as we know it was born!

When Select and the Spritz collided, the Select Spritz was born and became an instant hit with its super simple recipe of 3 parts prosecco, 2 parts Select and 1 part soda water, plus the green olive as well! Forget the slice of orange – the green olive adds a touch of salinity that makes it a bit less sweet.

Select Spritz and Gondola

How does Select Aperitivo taste

Select has a complex flavor profile that has a well balanced bittersweet taste and a finish that is floral and spicy with hints of fruit. It has notes of citrus fruits, lavender, cinnamon, ginger root, and cloves, as well.

Although made with 30 different and distinct botanicals, Select will reveal only a few of them including:

  • Juniper berries – the star ingredient for their balsamic and floral characteristics and for giving the spirit its red color!
  • Rhubarb rhizome (rhubarb roots) for its intensely bitter notes for balance
  • Artemisia which gives structure to the recipe

The rest is their family secret!

The production process is a mix of complex maceration, boiling, and distillation, followed by blending, filtering, and then maturation to create a bittersweet aperitivo!

Select Logo

Here are a few recipes for cocktails made with Select Aperitivo

Select Spritz Pin
Select Spritz
The Classic Venetian Aperitif!

Top Tip(ple)🍸: If you love Select, you can always try the Amaro Montenegro or Vecchia Romagna which is also made by Gruppo Montenegro.

Where you can buy Select Aperitivo

Select Aperitivo portrait

UK: You can find Select Aperitivo at Spirits Kiosk. (don’t forget to use ALushLife10SK to get 10% off! – it’s only for my readers and good on anything in their shop!

USA: You can find Select Aperitivo on Drizly!

Why Lush Life loves it

If you know me, you know I adore Venice, so there would be a good chance I would love Select Aperitivo, which I do. I also love a spritz. Select has the perfect balance of bitter and sweet for me and since it was born in Venice, it has to be my number one choice!

More Lush Guides to Liquor!

Want to know more about the spirits that go into your cocktails? Check out my Lush Guides to Liquor!

Let me know what you think of Select Aperitivo by tagging me @alushlifemanual on instagram


Lush Guide to Select Aperitivo

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