The Maltese Spritz

About the author: Mike Joy is a prolific traveler, summer cocktail specialist, and Community Manager at Couchsurfing.

Move over Aperol, there is a new spritz in town. And it is about to change the game!

On a recent trip to Malta, a friend and I were walking in the hot September sun when she suddenly said, “Do you know what I could go for? An Aperol spritz!” 

Valletta as seen from Sliema (@iammikejoy)

As someone who could drink an Aperol spritz at any time, day or night. Hot, cold or frozen. Awake, asleep or jet-lagged, it took me about 30 seconds to find a cute Maltese restaurant where we could get some local cuisine and a spritz. Upon ordering we noticed ‘Maltese Spritz’ on the menu and instantly asked the waiter how it was made. The bartender explained: “It is our local ‘cactus liqueur’ with sparkling rose. It is much sweeter than an Aperol spritz but it is just as delicious!”

A small bottle of Bajtra

We ordered one and it came out as pink as the first sunburn of summer. We were wary of how sweet it would be, but upon us both tasting it we immediately ordered a second so we wouldn’t have to share. 

The base, Bajtra (Prickly Pear Liqueur), is not bitter, but it is not a sugary drink and mixed with sparkling rose it is very light and refreshing. It was the perfect spin on an Aperol spritz for people who would prefer something a little bit sweeter without being loaded with sugar.

Maltese Spritz part 2 (made with Prosecco)

A few days later, after a few hours on Golden Bay Beach, we headed to the bar above the beach. The bartender had not heard of a Maltese spritz, but after I explained the recipe, he made us two. He used prosecco as he didn’t have sparkling rose, and we both decided that it may be even better than the original, as it cuts the sweetness but keeps the delicious cactus flavor – which we then found out is actually prickly pear. 

Keep the same proportions as an Aperol spritz, but switch out Aperol for Bajtra.

Shauna taking her first sip of the Maltese Spritz (with sparkling rosé)

1 oz Bajtra (prickly pear) liqueur
2 oz prosecco (sparkling rose for a sweeter and pinker option!)
A splash of soda
An orange for garnish (although I think a maraschino cherry would be quite visually appealing!) 

And voila! You have your new fave drink of summer!

Disclaimer: we have not verified this is actually a traditional drink of Malta! BUT we did have it in Malta, it uses a traditional Maltese liqueur and it is delicious.  

Top photo courtesy of shutterstock/By Tennessee Witney

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