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I reckon the Italian aperitivo is for everybody a guilty pleasure and it’s all quite said we don’t live in Italy (for the ones who don't). It all is a very social & functional happening where you meet up with friends & having a pre-dinner drink chatting away over some small bites.
Aperitivo comes from the Latin word aperire & means ‘’to open’’. The idea is that the drink stimulates (opens) your appetite for the dinner to come. It sounds a bit weird, as often an aperitivo comes with a small snack, but the Italians believe that your appetite comes when you eat. For the record, this doesn’t mean that you have to stack up and eat all the snacks, but 1-2 with your drink will do.
The history of the aperitivo and where it all started is hard to say. It’s said that the concept of the aperitivo started in Torino, Italy in 1786 by the creator of the vermouth liquor, Antonio Benedetto Carpano, where his drink (obviously) was the perfect drink to open your stomach before the meal.
The common drinks that are served during the aperitivo have bitters as main ingredient, like Aperol or Campari in the mix. More and more though you see a glass of dry wine or other alcoholic beverage passing by too.
The Negroni is a mixed drink using Campari, Gin & Vermouth served over ice, garnished with an orange peel. It’s believed that in 1919 Count Camillo Negroni asked the bartender to strengthen his favourite drink back then, the Americano (Campari, Soda water & Vermouth), & added Gin. The legend was born.
The Spritz originates from Venice, while it was under the Austrian Empire, & is a mix using Aperol or Campari, Prosecco & Soda water over ice garnished with an orange peel. The Austrian soldiers weren’t used to the high alcohol content wines in Northern Italy & asked the bartender to spray (‘’spritzen’’ in German) a bit of water in his wine. During time, the drink evolved to the coloured version what it is today.
Every respected bar who offers aperitivo will serve small snacks to accompany the drink. Bars will charge for the drinks, but (hopefully) not for the snacks which is supposed to complement what the bar has to offer.