It’s been a long week and I don’t know about you but I am ready for a cocktail. Mixologists and elaborate cocktails are all the rage here in the US right now but I am longing for the elegance of the the aperitivo in Italy. The pre-dinner cocktail is a ritual in Italy and has truly been elevated to an art form. Perhaps it is the sense you get of walking in a bar full of impeccably dressed Italians that already makes this time of day feel special. Or maybe it is the elegant presentation of the bar snacks that are arranged on the bar in a way that begs to be photographed. I love nothing more than stopping at a bar after a long day of touring and reliving the events of the day over cocktails. There are many options to order. In Venice, go for the spritz - Aperol, prosecco and a splash of soda. This drink is a vibrant orange color, thanks to the Aperol, a sightly bitter aperitif that is lower in alcohol than most cocktail ingredients. If you want to feel like you stepped right back into the time of Roman Holiday, when Via Veneto was THE place to be and Audrey Hepburn reigned supreme, try the Negroni. Here is a recipe:
1 oz. gin
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. sweet vermouth
Stir ingredients in a mixing glass, strain into a chilled martini glass (or ice-filled double rocks glass) and garnish with an orange slice.
Campari and soda is another popular choice at Italian bars. And of course, if you want to keep it simple, a glass of prosecco is never a mistake. One of my favorite cocktails was at a lovely hotel in Naples where we enjoyed prosecco with seasonal muddled fruits. Being October, the featured fruit was late harvest grapes (similar to Concord grapes) and the flavor was superb.
My advice: keep your cocktails classic and simple, serve up some tasty nibbles (think olives, foccacia squares, cheese) and enjoy some great conversation. That is the art of the aperitivo. Cin Cin!