We all know what drinks are appropriate for an aperitivo and when they are served. This text will remind us of some of their main characteristics and types and introduce a trick that has become greatly popular in European restaurants and bars in recent years.
An apéritif is an alcoholic beverage served before a meal to stimulate the appetite. Since this drink is served together with snacks, it didn’t take long for restaurant and bar owners to think of a perfect way to indulge their customers as well as their wallets.
Aperitivo time is introduced from 7 pm to 8 pm with restaurants and bars serving canapés, various snacks, appetizers, olives, cold pasta, little pieces of pizza or other bite-size food.
First to introduce aperitivo time were Italians, but the trend has quickly spread to Switzerland, France, Austria, Germany. Food is served in a buffet style, if in a large restaurant. Smaller places offer an aperitivo menu to guests at the table.
Food during aperitivo time is free
Bite-sized food during aperitivo time is free of charge; however, prices of drinks during that hour are raised.
Experience shows that restaurants have doubled their dinner orders after introducing this hour and customers who are planning to dine out, gladly select places that offer this treat. Bars are introducing it, as well as other types of hospitality businesses. The reason is that most customers order wine or beer to go with the snacks.
Origins of aperitivo tradition
The tradition of drinking alcohol before a meal existed in ancient Rome. Its inhabitants drank mulsum, a mixture of wine and honey, considered a predecessor of a modern apéritif. In 1786 in Torino, Antonio Benedeto Carpano invented vermouth – a fortified wine flavored with thirty different types of herbs and spices, and from then on, real food lovers never miss having an apéritif before an evening meal.
Since stronger drinks numb the taste buds, apéritifs are usually mild beverages. Serving brandy or whiskey as an apéritif, for example, is not an option.
Best apéritifs contain 16% to 24% alcohol. They are usually fortified wines, whose taste is differently flavored, even though some, like Campari, are closer to hard liquor than wine.
Apéritifs are simple drinks, best served chilled, avoiding the use of ice, but rather cooling the drink or the glass in order to preserve the taste.
Equally important tradition is drinking digestifs. As opposed to apéritifs, they are served right after the meal, to improve digestion.