How to Aperitivo Like In Italy
There seems to be an understanding among people who have visited Italy. Go once or dozens of times, and the essence becomes clear: eating and drinking like the Italians is the ultimate lifestyle. While the people of the world, the US in particular, have adopted (and adapted) some aspects of Italian cuisine readily, the delight of aperitivo might be the most delicious score.
What is aperitivo?
You’ll often hear a generous conversion — that aperitivo is akin to happy hour. Maybe. Depends. Aperitivo is a tradition in Italian culture that happens around sunset, when establishments offer cicchetti (small snacks) and the first drink of the evening, intended to awaken the palate before dinner. Aperitivo is the term for the style of drinks (I’ll take an aperitivo.) as well as the gathering event (Want to meet for aperitivo?).
How did the aperitivo tradition begin?
The Romans probably had a drink before dinner, but it wasn’t until later that the act of snacking and drinking during the twilight hour became tradition. Some say that aperitivo started in the cafés of Turin in the 19th century. To put a little food in the bellies of drinking customers, a light plate was served along with sips that would encourage more drinking and more eating.
What kind of drinks are served at aperitivo?
“Generally, aperitivo drinks are bitter, herbal, and low in alcohol,” according to author Patricia Doherty in Travel + Leisure. “Vermouth and other wines, including sparklers like increasingly popular prosecco, are frequently ordered.”
One of the classic drinks is the spritz, glowing coral with such vitality that one is sure to notice it waiting on outdoor tables at the local piazza or osteria. Learn how to make an Aperol Spritz directly from the source, for those homebound cravings.
As for wine, we vote for saline-driven, slightly savory, lower ABV Italian whites. This refreshing category will wash down olives and light charcuterie without a heavy feeling. We’re drawn to wines from coastal locales, such as Sicily or Campania and varieties such as Fiano or Malvasia.
What foods are served at aperitivo?
Aperitivo foods tend to be in the bite-size realm: a small bowl of salted nuts, olives that can be munched from a toothpick, nibbles of bread, paper-thin slices of charcuteries, fresh cheese. Restaurants in Italy will likely offer them with your drink, complimentary or at a very reasonable price. To make these snacks at home, we love the book Aperitivo: The Cocktail Culture of Italy by Marisa Huff.
In fact, we love the idea of recreating aperitivo at home so much, this tradition is now part of our summer plans. Who doesn’t love the idea of sharing a laugh with a friend, under a patio umbrella, rattling ice or swirling wine in a glass? Pass the olives, please.