For those who grow up in Italy, the aperitivo is a moment that is as much a part of their culinary routine as breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Only when you move abroad do you realize that the Aperitivo is not such an obvious tradition, in fact, there is a real culture shock. Many countries, on the contrary, do not contemplate it at all and others intend it differently from Italy. Only some decades ago has this tradition spread across the Alps and more and more bars and clubs have begun to offer it to their customers, although often mistakenly associating it with the concept of happy hours, i.e., the discounted formula of drink 2 and pay 1.
So, what is the Italian-style aperitivo? A moment of relaxation, of gathering with friends, of informal conviviality. That moment, before dinner, when you take a break from work and get together with some friends to chat over a glass of wine, a cocktail, a soft drink, and some small appetizers. Little does it matter what you drink or snack on, the important thing is sociability, it is the getting together and diverting your mind from the thoughts of the day: a break to unplug and recharge your batteries.
The best-known aperitivo time is precisely the one after work, but on weekends or weekdays, it is also popular to meet for an aperitif just before lunch. Most people think that this moment, so beloved by Italians, is a marketing strategy by many alcoholic beverage companies to advertise and sell their products, but few know that the aperitivo is rooted in Italy as far back as 1786 when the distiller Antonio Benedetto Carpano created a Vermouth drink made of muscat, caramel, sugar, herbs, and spices, which also conquered the then King of Italy.
Among its properties, this drink boasts digestive and appetite-stimulating ones, and for this reason, it was usually consumed before a meal, as a drink to ready the stomach for the main meal, dinner. Read more on Cuciniamoitaly about the history and customs of this… all-Italian habit!
Tips and tricks for a delightful aperitivo at home
The modern aperitif is nowadays mostly consumed in a club, but it is also often the case that people come over for dinner or are invited to have an aperitivo at home.
As the aperitif is not subject to any of the strict etiquette codes and table manners rules but is an informal occasion in which the watchword is ‘relaxation’, one can enjoy setting it up at home any way they like. In fact, only small and simple tricks are needed, according to Cuciniamoitaly, to create the perfect, cozy setting for guests and enjoy this occasion to the full.
Important ingredients that, of course, should not be missing are drinks, ice, nibbles, and why not…some good music in the background.
One of the best-known cocktails for an aperitif is undoubtedly Aperol Spritz: this alcoholic drink is enjoyed all over the world and is among the most popular at this time. However, among its biggest competitors is certainly Martini Dry, a drink based on gin and vermouth with a strong alcohol content (29°). Martini Martini is an extremely popular cocktail because it adapts to different palates: depending on the amount of gin and vermouth used, it can take on a drier or, instead, a softer flavor. So, there are various recipes that can be created by combining the two alcoholic ingredients. Silvia Ghioni, a Milanese bartender, tells the story of the Martini with some recipes on Cuciniamoitaly.
It is interesting to discover that the Montgomery Martini was invented by Hemingway in honor of the British general bearing the same name, or why Martini is sometimes combined with olives and sometimes with lemon.
Read the article and learn more about this tradition!
Photo credit Featured image: @iorispremoli