Aperitivo is a beloved pre-dinner drinks tradition that takes place after a workday with colleagues or friends as a warm-up to dinner.
Though the Aperitivo is celebrated throughout Italy, it’s Milan that has brought the ritual to its celebrated status. It is a deeply ingrained routine of the Milanese, one they perform, as always, with style and class.
Traditionally, Aperitivo cocktail options tend to be light on alcohol and bitter in taste, meaning they pair perfectly with salty snacks. Appetizers and other light fares should be provided as long as you are drinking, though the types of foods vary immensely from cheeses and cured meats to quiches, vegetables, pizzas and even small plates of pasta. Cocktails – alcoholic or not – are expertly mixed and a “Negroni”, “Negroni Sbagliato” (a delicious mix of prosecco, red vermouth and Aperol instead of gin) or a “Spritz” (Aperol and prosecco) are Milanese specialities.
The concept of the modern Apéritif is generally thought to have been invented (or effectively marketed) by the distiller Antonio Benedetto Carpano, who also created one of the first types of vermouth in Turin in 1786.
He claimed that his special combination of fortified white wine and various herbs and spices stimulated the appetite and were more suitable for ladies to drink than red wine. It thus became one of the first popular Aperitivo drinks. Vermouth became popular very quickly but it remains unclear when people began referring to these sorts of boozy pseudo-medicines as ‘Aperitivi’.
What we do know is that the term comes from the Latin word for “opener”, signifying that it was to open a meal.
Today, the simple drink has evolved and spread south to encompass those glorious couples of hours all over Italy – generally between 7 PM and 9 PM – when Italians meet to relax over a glass of wine or a light cocktail and finger foods. Since most people eat lunch around 1 or 2 PM, and dinner around 8 or 9 PM, it’s also a good way to kick start metabolisms and work up an appetite for dinner.
For visitors, hitting up an Aperitivo bar can be just as useful. It’s a great way to experience local culture, to people-watch, to unwind with a drink after a long day of sightseeing… and to take the edge off your hunger while waiting for that 9 PM meal!
Source(s)- Walk of Italy, GinaMussio, WhereMilan