Aperi·tivo. noun. The definition of an aperitivo is a beverage that is alcoholic that is consumed prior to a meal with the intention of stimulating the appetite.
The Italian’s have been getting it right since 1786 when Antonio Benedetto Carpano founded the apertivo hour, a way to unwind with friends after a long day, with refreshing drinks, nibbles and good conversation to wet the appetite for the evening meal. It typically takes place between 7pm-9pm, the perfect way to unwind and enjoy this summer we are having with a few glasses of fizz.
I’ve put together a checklist of everything you need to enjoy your very own aperitivo hour.
When it comes to drinks, a traditional style aperitivo is usually something light (dry or bitter) like Prosecco, Campari, Aperol and Vermouth. A cocktail that brings all the elements together and of course has Prosecco in it is the Arancia Spritz. Prosecco goes well with savoury snacks, which makes it perfect for drinking in aperitivo hour, I’ve used Mionetto Prosecco which hails from Valdobbiadene in the heart of the Prosecco area in Italy and is the world’s bestselling Prosecco. The Mionetto Prosecco Doc Treviso has a bouquet redolent of golden delicious apple, with notes of honey, black liquorice, and acacia blossom.
The Arancia Spritz cocktail is so easy to make and you don’t even need a cocktail shaker. The cocktail is said to have originated in Venice and it is a light drink which pairs lovely with an Italian Pasta Salad.
Arancia Spritz Recipe
85ml Mionetto Prosecco DOC Treviso
55ml San Pellegrino Aranciata
Orange (to garnish)
Fresh Mint (to garnish)
1. Combine all the ingredients in a glass, except the Prosecco.
2. Add ice and stir to chill.
3. Top up with Mionetto Prosecco DOC Treviso.
4. Garnish with a slice of orange and a sprig of fresh mint.
As aperitivo hour has become more popular in the UK, bars and restaurants have taken the trend and created their own combination of small bites, so whether it’s crisps and peanuts or cured meats and cheese, you can take your own twist.
For a more traditional Aperitivo hour, I recommend an Italian Pasta Salad, this is easy to make, you just need some fusilli pasta and then toppings of your choice. I used colourful bell peppers and tomatoes, but you could add in mozzarella pearls, salami, spinach and olives, maybe even chilli flakes.
Have you ever heard of Tramezzini? It is Italy’s answer to afternoon tea sandwiches. Going back all the way to the 1920’s in Torini, these are small crustless sandwiches made with white bread and filled with anything from tuna to eggs. Easiest way is to create your sandwich then cut off the crusts and cut into four triangles. Serve them on a large skewer.
Olives are a staple favourite and are the easy go-to for aperitivo hour.
Italian Cheese & Prosciutto
You can’t beat a selection of cheese and hams, slice and display on a wooden serving board. I like to roll the ham then drizzle with honey or garnish with oregano.
Dice sun-dried tomatoes and black olives. Sauté in a frying pan with olive oil and a sprinkling of black pepper.
My favourite, I love a Crostini. I like them topped with olive oil and tomato, but you can choose whatever you want. Toast slices of fresh ciabatta and dress with your toppings such as sun-dried tomatoes, goats cheese, buffalo mozzarella, olives, roasted vegetables or meats.
– Mionetto Prosecco (RRP £11) is available at numerous stockists including Tesco, Budgens & Londis.
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