italian aperitif
Italian Food

Life in Italy: the Italian aperitif

In tradition, the Italian aperitif happens before any meal. Here are the most popular choices at the bar.

italian aperitif
Traditional Italian Spritz cocktail against lake Como, Italy. Ph. depositphoto/happyalex

This tradition dates back to the Romans. In fact, the word aperitivo, derives from the Latin aperire, which means: to begin. The Italian aperitif tickles the appetite. It’s the perfect way to spend time with friends, family, and partners. The most popular time for it is before dinner, when Italians are finally off-work.

Often, the bars serve snacks with the drinks, like chips or crostini. Some places even offer a buffet or small bites of actual food, like pasta. Of course, this aperitivo is more expensive. But it’s worth it.

When you visit Italy, the aperitivo is a must.

aperitivo
A buffet for the Aperitif in Italy
Ph. depositphoto/soniacri

Italian aperitif, the choices with alcohol

These are the most popular choices. But beware: the trends change all the time.

  • Pirlo – born in the town of Brescia, in the Lombardia region. This drink is made of: white wine, Campari (or Aperol), and soda water.
  • Spritz bianco – straight from Veneto region. It’s a simpler choice, with sparkling water and white wine – the Spritz Aperol is an upgraded versio with Aperol.
  • Rossini – named after the famous classical composer. It features mashed strawberries and Prosecco sparkling wine.
  • Campari Soda – straight Campari with soda water. Campari can also be ‘corretto’ (additioned), with the addition of Gin.
  • Prosecco – sparkling wine (also called ‘Frizzantino’ in Northern Italy).
  • Negroni – a long drink, created in Florence, between 1920 and 1925. It mixes Bitter Campari and Cinzano Vermouth. Plus a robust shot of Gin.

Finally, the famous Bellini. A barman at Harry’s Bar in Venice created it in 1948. It celebrated the art exhibition of painter Giambellino, whose real name was Giovanni Bellini.

Here’s the recipe for the Bellini:

  • ¼ glass of whipped peach (keep the skin but remove the seed)
  • Prosecco
  • Ice (to be placed in the mixing glass)
  • 2 Raspberries (also whipped)
  • Lemon
  • Pour the whipped peach in the mixing glass with ice, the raspberries, and a few drops of lemon juice.
  • Add the Prosecco wine and mix.
  • Serve in Flute glasses, pouring it, using a strainer, to hold the ice back.
  • Let it sit, in a cool place for an hour, then serve.
aperitif in italy
Aperitif in Italy

The non-alcoholic options for your aperitivo

The main non-alcoholic beverages are: Gingerino and Crodino. Of course, you can also order juices or a soda. No one will judge you.

For juiceS or sodas, San Pellegrino is one of the most popular choices. And it has been since 1932. This brand only uses Sicilian oranges to make three type of beverages: regular, sweet and sour. Also known worldwide, is the famous Chinotto. This dark coloured beverage is made with a type of bitter orange (Citrus Myrtifolia) and is exported as far as the Australian continent.

italian aperitif
Aperitif in Italy al banco (at the bar)

Another popular brand non-alcoholic beverages is Valfrutta. This is another juicy brand. One of the most delicious option is the Vitaminix, with orange, apple, pineapple, apricot, maracuja with vitamins A, C and E added. Yummy and healthy.

Indeed, the Italian aperitif is a must during any Italian vacation. Whether you choose alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks, you will have a good time. For sure.

By Michael A. McCain

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