After a few weeks in Italy this year visiting my dad’s hometown and travelling with our family (12 of us in total), I became a massive fan of the Aperitivo. Aperitivo has many meanings in Italy and is derived from the Latin word “to open”. In this instance an aperitivo drink is a cocktail that is intended to be drunk early evening to prepare you for your evening meal.
An aperitivo cocktail is quite a bit more scientific than you might think and not every cocktail counts technically as an aperitivo. Aperitivi (plural) are usually dry and low alcoholic and their content is intended to kick-start your digestive system so that you can better enjoy your meal. It is a tradition that dates back to the 19th century and you will find that an aperitivo usually includes Campari, Aperol, Prosecco or vermouth – these were originally drunk straight as an aperitivo and are now often included in aperitivi cocktails. But there are also non-alcoholic aperitivi that can be enjoyed like Sanbitter or Crodino.
Italian’s usually eat dinner much later than we “Australiani” so the Italian aperitivo time is between 7pm and 9pm following work and before dinner. But don’t fear the lateness of aperitivo hour, because if you order an aperitivo in Italy at a restaurant or bar, you will also receive a platter of complimentary food to be eaten with your cocktail. Don’t forget, Italy is known for “la bella vita” and if you spend any amount of time in Italy, you’ll know why the lifestyle continues to call your name long after you have returned home.
The Aperol Spritz became my particular aperitivo of choice while in Italy. The biggest city near my father’s home town was called Ascoli Piceno in the Marche region (you’ll hear more about the beauty of Marche and the stay at my dad’s hometown in a later post). And in Ascoli Piceno within the Piazza del Popolo (square of the people) there stands Caffe Melletti, a bar opened in 1907 which represents the Art Nouveau style beautifully. Heritage listed and still as charming as the day it was opened, it was here at Caffee Melletti that my love of the Aperol aperitivo was born.
Dreaming of it ever since leaving Italy, I am delighted to share my recipe for Aperol Spritz for you to enjoy.
It is a perfect drink to start off your Christmas day feast this year. Especially for those of us who celebrate a Christmas and New Year’s beside the beach!
75ml Prosecco (Italian sparkling)
Soda Water (to top up)
1 slice orange
Add Aperol to a large glass filled with ice, then add Prosecco. Stir together and top up with Soda water and add orange.
NB. If making a jug, first determine how many glasses the jug will fill, then increase the quantities accordingly.