Summer is almost here. It’s time to get ready for the hot weather and all those barbecues, park picnics and backyard cook-outs. Sure you could stick to your usual summer entertaining rituals but why not try something new this year? Why not add a little la dolce vita to your next get-together?
It’s time to embrace the concept of the Italian aperitivo. How? It’s quite simple; it’s all about meeting up with friends, having a cocktail, and enjoying a few bites. It’s the Italian answer to the French cinq-a-sept or the Spanish tapas. But it is quite different to American happy hour which tends to focus on getting wasted. I mean… You’ll never see an Italian getting drunk before dinner. If you have travelled throughout Italy, you may have already experienced aperitivo. So why not bring it home to your patio? It’s dead easy.
The classic Italian aperitivo drink differs by the region but usually includes a mixed cocktail using either Aperol or Campari. An easy classic cocktail with Campari is a Negroni (equal parts Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth). Alternatively you can serve a Spritz, which is a mixed drink using Aperol or Campari (your choice), white wine, and soda. Could it get any easier? Some of your guest may find Campari and Aperol a bit too bitter, for them we would suggest having a classic white wine on hand as well. Try the Pinot Grigio from Gabbiano – a dry, light-bodied and refreshing white. And never leave out the red wine drinkers: pick up a Chianti Classico from Gabbiano while you are at it.
The food served for aperitivo is never complicated. It’s quite typical for bars in the Northern parts of Italy to simply serve a bowl of olives and some good quality kettle chips. Up the ante at home by serving traditional antipasto options, which includes cured meats and pickled meats (prosciutto, hard salami, etc.), olives (black and green), and various cheeses (such as provolone or mozzarella). Add in some peperoncini, mushrooms, anchovies (just crack open a tin), and pickled vegetables. All of these items can be bought at your local grocery.