Italians know that enjoying life is easier with a drink in the hand, food in the mouth and friends at the table. This is what aperitivo time is about. Not all aperitivi are created equal. Good Italian aperitivo is defined by Italianness; something that is hard to capture on paper, but you’ll know it when you see it. Drinks are taken seriously, not to accompany food, but to be the hero in their own story. It is served with simple appetizers that are homemade, carefully selected and flavourlicious. Most importantly, it is about the good life; sitting down, meeting friends and knowing that the best things in life really are the small things.
The Greek physician Hippocrates treats patients with a lack of appetite. He prescribes them his own invention; a mixture of wine, sugar and spices.
Vermouth, white wine with an infusion of 30 herbs and spices. It is taken out of the medical sphere by serving it for the first time as a drink in a bar; his small wine and liquor bottega in Torino.
Signor Ramazzotti creates the first non-wine-based drink with 33 herbs and spices in Milano. It would be the start of a life long fight over which city invented the aperitivo; Torino (first aperitivo in a bar) or Milano (first non-wine-based drink in a bar)
Alessandro Martini meets Luigi Rossi and creates the Martini Bianco (nice and sweet intended for the ladies) and later the Dry Martini by replacing the muscat grapes for dryer grapes.
Gaspare Campari, owner of a known bar in Milano, introduces a new drink inspired by the trend. To set it apart from the rest he calls it bitter (instead of the Italian amaro), inspired by Dutch vocabulary (the Dutch always find their way into the history books!)
The drinks start to be mixed and we see our aperitivo favourites emerge: Negroni (Gin, Bitter Campari, Martini Rosso), Negroni sbagliato (accidentally found when the gin was replaced with prosecco…probably for the best) and the infamous Spritz (Bitter Campari or Aperol with Prosecco and soda).
In Milano the aperitivo becomes a social phenomenon. The cocktail list grows ever longer and more and more they are accompanied by antipasti (It wouldn’t be Italian if there wasn’t some food involved). In some parts of Italy (mostly the north) it even turns into a full aperitivo buffet.
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