Apparently, Italy is the country where aperitivo spread itself more than one century ago but its origin dated back three centuries before Christ. Yet in ancient Greece, Hippocrates used to treat the lack of appetite by administering a white wine drink to stimulate hunger.
The real aperitivo custom began in 1876 in Turin. Antonio Benedetto Carpano, the owner of a liquor store, creates Vermouth, a china-flavored wine, loved by King Vittorio Emanuele II. Around 1900, in Milan, aperitivo became a habit thanks to the addition of appetizers and snacks.
Now, you find bars and pubs specialized in aperitivo throughout all the peninsula but still, the best and more traditional haunts are in the north. Check here to find your place in Milan.
Here a list of the most popular aperitivo cocktails that you can order and taste with your meal.
This is one of the most famous aperitivo cocktails in Italy. It was born during the german occupation of Veneto in the 1800s: german diplomats and merchants relocated in Italy, found the local wine too alcoholic for their taste; they started to add some water to the sparkling wine (spritzen in german means sparkling). Later on, they added liquors like Campari or Aperol. Now, the recipe consists of Prosecco wine, Aperol, and soda with a slice of peel orange. Spritz is our favorite so far!
Nothing is certain about the origin of its name. Created around the 1860s by Gaspare Campari in his Caffè, it was called “Milano-Torino” at the beginning because of its composition: vermouth (from Turin) and Campari (from Milan). Then its name changed into Americano, maybe because of the high appreciation of the cocktail by American people who moved to Italy during prohibition in the US. Another story links it to the famous Italian boxer Primo Carnera, active in the US: apparently, the cocktail was named in his honor.
We are in Florence back in 1919 where the Count Camillo Negroni asked the barman of Caffè Casoni to put in his Americano a bit of Gin instead of Seltz, remembering his last trip to London. So Negroni was created.
A famous variation, Negroni sbagliato (wrong Negroni) is very famous: sparkling white wine or Prosecco instead of gin.
The prestigious Harry’s Bar in Venice saw the birth of Bellini cocktail. It has a delicate and pleasant taste and it’s not much alcoholic.
The ingredients: Prosecco wine and peach nectar or purée. Its color inspired Giuseppe Cipriani, owner of Harry’s Bar, reminding him a painting of Giovanni Bellini.
Sometime in 1930, a cardinal in Rome used to spend his evenings at the Hotel Excelsior, where he loved to ask the barman his own recipe of a cocktail. The barman was curious to see if the cocktail could be successful so he put it on the menu. Being the cocktail a triumph, the bartender named it the Cardinal, also for its dark vivid red color.
It’s quite alcoholic: gin, dry vermouth, Campari and a lemon twist.
There is an endless list of cocktails made with Martini Vermouth. The classic one, Martini Dry, is gin and vermouth with a lemon twist or olive. Time passing by from its invention, many variations came up but the classic is always the most beloved among the aperitivo cocktails.
Alessandro Martini, back in 1863, started to produce dry vermouth and his triumph was such that his product became famous all around the world.
Campari is maybe the most popular name in this field worldwide. The story of this company started in 1860 when a small family business moved its first steps in the world of alcoholic beverages. In the traditional Caffè Campari in Milan, the triumph grew more and more till the turning point: in 1932 Camparisoda was born, the first single-dose aperitivo in the world, made of 1 part Campari and 2 parts of soda; the design of the small bottle was created by the futurist Fortunato Depero and it has remained unchanged since then.