- By AbruzzoCibus
- On Mar 11, 2019
A short guide to Italian aperitivo
An aperitivo is something similar to the American happy hour, but it’s much more than that. It’s a pre-meal drink meant to stimulate your appetite.
It was Hippocrates, the famous ancient Greek physician, who first suggested the “vinum hippocraticum” (a sweet and spicy white wine) as a remedy for patients who complained of lack of appetite. With the addiction of rosemary and sage, Ancient Romans turned this drink into “vinum absinthiatum” (absinth).
In the 18th century there was the beginnings of the aperitivo as we know it today. The first commercial vermouth was released in Turin by distiller Antonio Benedetto Carpano in 1786. Italy’s King Vittorio Emanuele II liked it so much that it became the official court aperitif!
Today, the aperitivo has evolved to incorporate all types of food and drink. It usually takes place between 6:00 – 9:00 pm, when Italians meet in bars to relax over a glass of wine or a light cocktail and finger foods.
What to drink
Aperitivo drinks are divided into two categories: alcolici (alcoholic), and analcolici (non-alcoholic) drinks.
Non-alcoholic drinks can range from fruit juice cocktails to a non-alcoholic bitter (Crodino, Sanbitter). The most important alcoholic cocktails are:
- Spritz. It’s a typical aperitivo drink of the Northern Italy. There are several variants to the spritz cocktail, most commonly they are made with prosecco or white wine, Aperol or Campari, with a splash of soda.
- Negroni. It’s a simple cocktail, made with three ingredients (gin, Campari and vermouth). It was invented in Florence in 1919 for Count Camillo Negroni after his request for something a little stronger than his usual “Americano”…
- Americano. It is one of the most famous and appreciated pre-dinner cocktail in the world. The recipe is simple: Campari and vermouth with a splash of soda. This simplicity has a unique flavor that never ceases to amaze the palate!
- Bellini. This is a summertime classic. It was invented in 1948 by Giuseppe Cipriani who was the head bartender at the iconic “Harry’s Bar” in Venice. It’s made with sparkling white wine (usually prosecco) and the juice of a white peach.
- Vermouth. It is a wine flavored with various botanicals. You can enjoy it straight up, over ice with a citrus twist or mixed in a cocktail such as a Martini, Manhattan or Negroni.
If you want to keep your aperitivo simple, you can also have some classic drinks like wine or beer.
> Try our homemade recipe for our signature cocktail LIMONCELLO Martini:
- 1 shot of limoncello
- 1 shot of vodka
- 1/2 shot of dry vermouth
Shake well with lots of ice and then pour. Enjoy!
What to eat
What you eat at the aperitivo depends from the bar you chose. Some places bring just olives and potato chips with your drink. More commonly you’ll have a plate of bruschetta, focaccia, or even meats (salame, prosciutto) and cheeses.
Important: the food for an aperitivo is not supposed to replace your dinner. Eating too much food like it’s your last meal is seen as somewhat rude, and that’s not the point of aperitivo.
Also, as a general rule, one drink means one plate of food. If you want more food, buy another drink!