Taste is a matter of… well, taste. The mildest chilli can leave some gasping for breath, while others’ taste buds are robust enough to face the mighty Ghost Pepper and live to tell the tale. Some suffer with such a sweet tooth that their real ones rot away, while others spend their adult life forgoing the chocolate fondant in favour of the cheese platter.
A discerning pallet could even save your life. Just look at the breed of cockroach that mutated to taste the sugar used in traps designed to kill them as an unpleasant flavour. Similarly, research suggests our bitter taste perception was pivotal for homo sapiens adapting and expanding into new environments. In effect, natural selection created a sensory rule of thumb for avoiding poisonous berries.
So who is this highly evolved modern man? Extensively bearded and consciously bespectacled, he sits cross-legged in his red cords, sipping on his Campari Spritz (a drink as bitter as his feelings towards what he takes to be popular culture) with precise, affected nonchalance. Either modern man has evolved beyond the need to fear bitter things or modern man is a masochist towards his taste buds. Whatever the reason for enjoying bitter flavours, we should accept it, embrace it and enjoy it – particularly in the thirst-quenching and delicious spritz. Not least because it is so simple to make; so simple, in fact, that a child could mix it.
Spritz just means splash in German. It is famously drunk in Italy’s Veneto region – the German name derives from when the region was under Austrian rule. The Campari Spritz is just one version – Campari can be replaced with others, including Cynar, Gran Classico, Select or Aperol, and the prosecco can be – and often is – replaced with white wine.
In fact, the quantities of all the ingredients can be changed to suit your taste: from a spritz that is effectively champagne with a dash of bitters to a bitter heavy concoction with the subtle balance of a blind drunk on a unicycle.
■ 3 parts prosecco
■ 2 parts Campari
■ 1 part soda water
• Pour ingredients over ice in whatever glass you can find
• Garnish with a slice of orange