Anyone for an Aperitivo?

Today I’m feeling a little bit sad because one of my very best friends in Salerno is going back to New Zealand and it will be some time before I get the chance to see her again. To say goodbye though, we went for one of my favourite Italian rituals – the aperitivo!

Italian Aperitivo in Sicily
Italian Aperitivo in Sicily

The aperitivo is not a happy hour. Sometimes it is translated this way, but it is definitely not the same thing… At happy hour you get money off drinks, two for the price of one offers etc. At an aperitivo you may actually find yourself paying more for your drink, but it will be accompanied by food (aha! Now you understand why I like it so much).

Aperitivos are a very Northern thing, and the buffets served there are usually more generous. There are some excellent places with a good selection of nibbles in the South too, including the bar in Syracuse where the above photograph was taken.

The drinks  ordered for an aperitivo are usually not highly alcoholic as the spirits are saved for after dinner, although there are a few cocktails designed specifically for the pre-dinner munchies. Generally you can choose between alcolici and analcolici; respectively alcholic and non alcoholic. Wine is a great choice, as are the bottled aperitivi – San Bitter, Aperol Spritz, Martini Soda ecc.

Today I went for one of my favourites, the negroni sbagliato:

Negroni Sbagliato
Negroni Sbagliato

The Negroni Sbagliato, or “wrong Negroni” is a variation on the traditional, and for my taste too strong, Negroni, which is a mix of equal parts red Martini, Campari and gin. The Sbagliato version uses prosecco instead of gin, making it much lighter on the alcohol front as well as generally sweeter.

Aperitivo buffets vary from simple bowls of crisps and pretzels, like today’s version, and full on buffets of foods ranging from pasta to cold cuts, breads to salads, pizza to bruschetta. There is a wonderful place in Milan on the canals called the Movida which serves (or used to) a vast selection of cocktails with a huge buffet which could put some restaurants to shame – as much as you can eat for the sum of six Euros! They can afford to just because the drinks are too good just to stick to one, even on a school night… especially the frozen strawberry daiquiri!

Aperitivos are not only a great social activity in Italy: they can easily be recreated for a cocktail party at home. All you need is some platters of nosh and some decent bottles of wine! Stay tuned for more suggestions on pulling this off at home next week.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Mariagrazia says:

    O CAFE’ – In Southern Italy when you want to go out with a girl (or a you like actually 😉 ) please please PLEASE do not tell her “Let’s go out for an apertivo…” someone could think you come from Brescia or Bergamo or Trezzano sul Naviglio.. 😀 …. but please tell her/him ” hey, Let’s go out for a caffe” .. NU CAFE’ 😉 …. hihih p.s. I dont remember last time I had a Negroni…..actually I remeber me asking a Negroni to the barman…this is my last memory hihihih

    1. hihi you’re right, and be warned, if you are in the South it is NOT A GOOD THING for people to think you’re from the North. And vice-versa. It’s a bit like England v Scotland, only with more Italian style hand gesturing 😉

  2. So glad I found your blog! I was just wondering about the Negroni vs. the Negroni Sbaliato vs. the Americano—really, I was! (I’m hosting an Italian themed dinner party this weekend.) So, thank you. It appears that you and your friend had a memorable and scenic apertivo. Best to you both.

    1. Glad I could help! Just comment or message me if you have any questions about anything for your dinner party – if I don’t know the answer I’ll ask one of my colleagues, what they don’t know about Italian cooking between them ain’t worth jack!

      1. Thanks! The menu’s set and it looks good (all I have to do is host 🙂 ) so I thought I’d raise the bar by offering some authentic Italian cocktails. I’ve decorated with some blown glass flowers and a fabulous mask we got on our last trip to Venice–so I’m ready! Thanks again.

        1. Okay, Love, I have to tell you that we did try the Campari cocktails, and boy were they strong! Even the Sbagliato was pretty bitter—and I do realize that Campari is a bitter alchohol–but I have to ask: do you get used to the taste? Or what?! 🙂

  3. Okay, Love, I have to tell you that we did try the Campari cocktails, and boy were they strong! Even the Sbagliato was pretty bitter—and I do realize that Campari is a bitter alchohol–but I have to ask: do you get used to the taste? Or what?!

    1. Lol yes they are pretty bitter, and I usually get them to reduce the Campari and increase the amount of Prosecco. However, it is something of an acquired taste I think!


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