Weekend Sip: Martini & Rossi wants in on the spritz game

The bottle

Martini & Rossi Fiero, $17.99

The back story

In the last few years, Americans have become obsessed with an Italian cocktail known as the spritz. It is a drink typically made with a bitter Italian apéritif herbal liqueur — think Aperol or Campari — and something fizzy, such as a combination of soda water and Prosecco.

But now, Martini & Rossi, the Italian brand best known for its vermouth, wants in on the spritz game. So, it recently introduced Fiero, a vermouth, with a distinctly bitter orange flavor, that it says offers “a fresh take on the classic Italian spritz.” It also says it pairs ideally with tonic water as the fizzy option.

As a vermouth, Fiero differs from traditional Italian aperitifs in that it is not a liqueur but a wine product — in essence, vermouth is flavored and fortified (or strengthened) wine. In theory, that makes it a less heavy drinking experience.

For Martini & Rossi, a brand with a history going back to 1863, it’s the latest attempt at innovation. Last year, the company, which is part of the Bacardi Limited family, rolled out Martini & Rossi Frosé and Frosecco, a pair of packaged wine cocktails that are meant to be frozen. The brand says its overall sales have grown 17.4% over the prior year.

What we think about it

We love a good spritz cocktail, especially as the weather turns warmer (yes, we’re already thinking ahead to summer). And Fiero certainly does the trick — pair it with the suggested tonic water and you’ve got a light, appealing drink with that bitter orange kick. But Fiero lacks the viscosity and oomph of a liqueur — in particular, of Campari — so we don’t think it’s as satisfying a sip on its own.

How to enjoy it

Why stop at tonic water? The Martini team says you can pair Fiero with flavored soda water (try lime) for another way to spritz. The orange-flavored vermouth also can work with other spirits — the Martini team suggests an Italian Rita (or margarita), with Fiero, tequila, lime juice and honey.

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