DIY Italian Aperitivo
Our top tips for creating your own Italian pre-dinner tradition, Aperitivo
All across Italy, in that golden hour between work and play time, cocktails and nibbles are aplenty.
They call it Aperitivo and its one of my favourite Italian rituals – its the breath of relaxation after a long day and heralds the start of the evening.
But these aren’t just your standard nibbles – pickled onion monster munch crunched on with that first pint of beer. These are small savoury bites of regional deliciousness, paired perfectly with a spritz of Aperol or Limoncello.
In towns around the Venetian lagoon, you’ll find creamy whipped cod topped crostini and grilled sardines in bars and courtyards filled with chatting friends.
In the northern region of Lombardy, things tend to be a little more eclectic – bites of pizza, wedges of cheese and slices of fatty charcuterie.
Whichever nibbles you fancy, recreating the tradition of Italian Aperitivo is always a good time. Friends clinking glasses filled with bubbly spritz, tasty snacks and letting their hair down… what’s not to love!
Aperitivo food can be as simple as olives and crudité, or sumptuous with delicately prepared crostini, freshly roasted nuts and chunks of salty cheese. The key is to keep things simple. It’s what Italians do best – simple food prepared with the very best produce.
Try oven frying almonds with saffron oil, wrapping bitter chicory with layers of sweet prosciutto and cracking open a jar of roasted artichoke hearts for a little extra treat.
After something more substantial? Mini meatballs in a flavoursome ragu, or quickly fried slithers of veal topped with fruity olive oil and freshly torn herbs. If in doubt, go big on crostini – little slices of bread, toasted and topped with whatever takes your fancy. White beans and herbs are a classic, or a decadent liver pate.
While an Aperol or Limoncello Spritz is a classic, wine is just as common. If you have more of a sweet tooth, then try Martini Rosso or Martini Bianco. Of course, you could opt for a Negroni, Italy’s most famous cocktail. It’s bitter, vivid red and crafted with gin, Campari and Red Vermouth. If that’s too boozy for you, you can always replace the gin with prosecco – still super delicious but with a refreshing little pop.
Simply does it.
Aperitivo isn’t a dinner – it’s essentially happy hour, so all the food should encourage sharing and socialising. Think grazing platters and bowls of olives.
Aperitivo should be easy to eat with one hand – since your other is hanging onto a glass of wine or cocktail. Use toothpicks if you need to, to help spear roasted veggies and grilled seafood without getting your hands dirty.
Salty all the way.
An Aperol or Limoncello Spritz is truly thirst quenching. Those bubbles will cut through big flavours, so don’t be afraid to go heavy on the salt.
Fancy whipping up your own Limoncello Spritz?
You’ll find all the ingredients in our Limoncello Spritz Hamper.
Or if you have them knocking around the cupboard already, here’s our British/Italian recipe…
25ml Soda Water
50ml Limoncello (we use Blackfords Cotswolds Limoncello)
Fresh Mint & Lemon slices to garnish
Fill your glass with ice. We like using wine glasses for spritzes, but you could use a pint or highball as well.
Using a jigger or measuring cup, fill the glass with 1 part soda, 2 parts limoncello and 3 parts prosecco.
Give it a quick stir then add a slice of fresh lemon and sprig of mint.
That’s all – you’re ready to drink!
Download the PDF recipe here.