No one understands the intersection of drinking and culture quite like the Italians do. From morning to night, there’s a drink for every moment. Go ahead: Drink Italian. It’s a way of life.
That precious time between finishing work and starting dinner goes by many names, from cocktail hour to happy hour. The Italians call it aperitivo hour, which is a cornerstone of the country’s rich, vibrant cocktail culture.
Those hours, usually between 6 and 8 p.m., shouldn’t be spent hunting down the best drink specials. Celebrate aperitivo hour by drinking something truly special. Follow these steps to enjoy Italian cocktail culture before dinner.
Choose Your Aperitivo
The simplest way of lending Italian authenticity to your aperitivo hour is by picking up a bottle of a true Italian aperitivo. That means Aperol, Campari or Cinzano 1757. Each of these were traditionally thought to stimulate the appetite, but that’s not the reason they’re perfect for pre-dinner drinks. Aperitivos are also light, vibrant and relatively low in alcohol content.
They can all certainly be enjoyed on the rocks, but why not have some fun with these Italian originals?
Make an Authentic Italian Cocktail
Stocked up on your apéritif of choice? Good, because you’ll be using it to mix an authentic Italian cocktail for guests to enjoy as they wind down from a long day. Picking Aperol would make you a real crowd pleaser, since the fizzy, bright Aperol Spritz is Italy’s most popular cocktail with a straightforward 3-2-1 recipe of three parts Cinzano Prosecco D.O.C., two parts Aperol and one splash of soda water.
Should you prefer something a little more classic, you can grab Campari and make Italy’s most iconic cocktail, the Negroni. The simple 1-1-1 (equal-parts) recipe will allow you to mix up a great cocktail without spending more than a moment away from your aperitivo hour guests.
Of course, there’s no need to choose just one of these amazing and authentic spirits. You can always make an Americano, featuring an irresistible mix of Cinzano 1757 sweet vermouth and Campari.
Serve Some Snacks
Italy’s cocktail and culinary cultures are impossible to separate, and why even try? Explore the lighter side of Italian food to pair with your cocktails.
You can save the heavy pastas for dinner. Aperitivo hour is the perfect time to enjoy cured meats, cheeses and fresh vegetables. Even putting out some nuts or olives is enough to add a taste of Italy to your evening.
Remember to Keep It Simple
The best way to know you’re hosting an authentic aperitivo hour is if you’re nice and relaxed in time for dinner. The right food, company and cocktails should make that easy. There’s no reason to make it any more complicated than that.