22nd Mar 2021
There’s a lot to love about the great Italian custom known as the Aperitivo. After all, the somewhat bitter, always delicious drink has been passed down through generations for an excellent reason! At its core, the idea is quite simple: sharing an appetising pre-dinner drink with family and friends at that golden hour just before sunset. A “happy hour” if ever there was one.
It’s said that when travelling to new locations, you should “do as the Romans do”, which roughly means to enjoy all of the new, thrilling experiences and customs that are commonly practised amongst locals. It’s a phrase that comes in handy wherever you visit, but it’s particularly true in Italy, where local cuisine and dining customs are internationally renowned and often considered to be one of the finest in the world.
The Aperitivo (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic Aperitivo) is one of those fine Italian customs that have been joyfully embraced the world over! If you’ve yet to experience this delectable drink (how preposterous!) or you’re as obsessed as we are and simply must know everything you can about it, read on! We outline some of the essential facts about Aperitivo and spill the secret on some out-of-this-world recipe ideas that would dazzle the absolute fanciest guest at your next dinner party.
What is Aperitivo?
The Aperitivo (or Aperitif) is a pre-dinner drink enjoyed with good snacks in good company. It’s often described as a drink that stimulates your appetite and prepares you for the dinner yet to come, but in reality, it’s so much more.
The Aperitivo emphasises good times, enhances the flavour of shared nibblies, and celebrates life during a night that radiates joy and was created to be remembered (thank goodness non-alcoholic Aperitivo’s are available right?!). The Aperitivo - with flavours like sunshine itself - is truly one of the only ways to fully enjoy a sunset.
What does Aperitivo taste like?
The Aperitivo casts a delectably wide net, encompassing everything from the Spritz to the Negroni. Typically, the Aperitivo is somewhat dry and a little bitter, with a refreshing lightness and delicate fizziness. Full of flavour - it’s optimised to stimulate your appetite after all - and highly aromatic, without dulling your taste buds, the Aperitivo is perfection in a glass.
Our unique non-alcoholic Aperitivo (or Aperitif) spirits have been impossibly crafted to capture distinct and contemporary flavours:
Aperitif Rosso: A rich, mouthful of flavours follows the bouquet with blood orange and vanilla taking the lead. Caramel, citrus pith, and cacao provide balance, adding to the mouth coating mid-palate.
Aperitif Dry: Dry and aromatic to taste. Distinct flavours of citrus, anise, fine herbs with a touch of saline to give it balance and length.
Italian Spritz: The bittersweet flavour of the Italian Spritz is like sunshine itself, bright with flavours typical of its origins. The sweetness from orange is perfectly fused with the complex and astringent flavours of rhubarb, finishing dry and deliciously refreshing.
Italian Orange: A rich, mouthful of flavours with blood orange and red citrus taking the lead. Maraschino brings balance, adding to the generosity on the mid-palate, giving length of flavour followed by a persistent, pithy dryness.
What’s the difference between Aperitivo and Aperitif?
If you’re starting to feel a little confused about the seemingly interchangeable use of the words Aperitivo and Aperitif, don’t worry, you’re not alone! Many people like to think of the difference as being similar to the difference between using “happy hour” and “cocktail hour”; the term changes, but the ritual doesn’t.
The main difference is where these terms originate. Aperitivo comes from Italy, while the French tend to call it Aperitif. Translated, they both mean to “open” or “opener” and describes the marvelous beverage consumed as an appetiser.
How to enjoy your Aperitivo
Enjoy Aperitivo anywhere: at home, in a bar, perhaps watching the sunset behind a far off horizon - as long as it’s relaxing and accompanied by good food and company!
An Aperitif served with light snacks is generally the essence of Aperitivo, so make sure that - in whatever way you’re enjoying it - you bring along a variety of food! Cheese, cured meats, anchovies and sardines, olives, nuts, breadsticks and crackers were likely created purely to accompany the Aperitivo, so you won’t go wrong with these included on your list.
For the Aperitif itself, this is generally served best over fresh cubed ice with your garnish of choice (think orange slices, lemon twists, cucumber slices and herbs). Soda water and your choice of a non-alcoholic beverage, such as Lyre’s Classico (our very own homage to Prosecco), or an alcoholic beverage if you’d prefer, complete the ensemble for a drink unlike any other.
The quintessential Aperitivo pastime is more about celebrating than it is about rules though, so the best way to enjoy your Aperitif is to sit back, relax, and take in all the glory of the environment around you and the company you’re in, even if it’s the tranquility of your own company.
Recipes with Non-alcoholic Aperitivo
These incredibly delicious, booze-free recipes with fewer calories and no pesky hangover will have you aper-rolling around your living room in disbelief that you’ve discovered a drink so good:
A refreshing, slightly citrusy beverage, best served in a tall glass with fresh cubed ice and orange slices. Close your eyes… take a sip… and fall in amore. Prego.
This classic aperitif may look like your usual sweet, Italian orange treat, but like a gate-crashing pack of weasels - it’s crafty, a little bitter, and full of surprises. Best served in an old fashioned glass with an orange slice to give it a little extra pizazz.
What’s not to love about a Dry Martini? Channel your inner Bond - James Bond - with Lyre’s exquisitely charming Dry Martini. Serve in a Martini glass (of course!) or small coupette, and top with a curly-wurly lemon twist.
Nothing wets the whistle before a meal like a splash of Aperitif on the rocks. Why mess with perfection, after all? Serve in a double rocks glass over some fresh cubed ice.
Innovation is imperative, mio amico. This humble Negroni with an aromatic coastal twist is an inspired choice for impressing associates. Best served in an old fashioned glass, with fresh cubed ice, a lemon wheel, and a delectable sprig of rosemary. Magnifico!