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Cheers! A bittersweet spritz for summer evenings

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Tammy Coxen with the Alta Spritz.

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
A Detroit-based company, Casamara, is producing soft drinks that are good for mixing drinks with less sugar and alcohol.

Sometimes summer nights demand a drink that’s not so sweet and not so high in alcohol content. You just want something light and refreshing.

A new line of soft drinks from Casamara Club in Detroit imitates amaros, but doesn’t have the intense sweetness or the alcohol.

“We've talked about amaros (amari) on the show before. They're those Italian bittersweet after dinner drinks. They use a lot of different botanicals that often have bitter or complex herbal flavors. So here they're taking those, turning them into tinctures and then using them in a soft drink,” said Tammy Coxen of Tammy's Tastings.

We taste tested the Casamara Club Alta soft drink which Tammy planned to use. If you’re tired of super sweet drinks and like the taste of amaros, this might be perfect for you.

“They're really designed for people who want to drink a little less but still have something that's got great flavor, is interesting, and not too sweet,” Tammy explained.

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Inspired by one of Italy's most popular drinks, Tammy Coxen mixes up the Alta Spritz.

The only question is how to best use this soft drink in a mixed drink?

“I'm going to take my inspiration from Italy and we're going to make a little Michigan twist on the most popular cocktail in Italy,” she said.

That drink is the Aperol Spritz which uses the sweeter, less bitter amaro, Aperol with Prosecco and club soda.

“It really is just like an Aperol spritz. We're just going to build it in a wine glass over a big pile of ice and then enjoy it while doing nothing at all,” Tammy said as she began mixing one of the most simple drinks ever featured on ‘Cheers to Michigan.’

The other switch is adding a bit of gin. Tammy chose Ginstache gin from Rusted Crow Spirits, based in Dearborn Heights.

“It’s very similar to a London dry gin. I would say it's really a great straightforward mixing gin. Works in a lot of different cocktails. And it doesn't have any really unusual botanicals that might make it not work with other flavors,” she said.

This drink does not have any acid, so a little lemon wedge is added as garnish to brighten up the spritz.

“I think that really makes the drink when you squeeze a nice healthy wedge of lemon in there and then drop that right into the glass,” Tammy said.

A sip of the Alta Spritz revealed it was light, refreshing, had that hint of bitterness of amaros, but certainly was not so sugary.

Alta Spritz

1 1/2 oz Aperol
1 oz gin (we used Ginstache from Rusted Crow Distillery)
4 oz Alta soft drink from Casamara Club
Garnish: lemon wedge
Combine all ingredients in a goblet or wine glass with lots of ice.
Squeeze the lemon wedge in!

Edit: This has been updated to correct the first reference of Casamara Club.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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