Italian Happy Hour

One of the most time-honored Italian traditions is enjoying some aperitivi in the late afternoon while lounging in the piazza. Sitting outside under the Mediterranean sun amid the hustle and bustle of the local town square gives one the unparalleled opportunity to experience the local culture of a place. The Italian version of happy hour is very popular among Italians of all ages, who gather together over bitter cocktails to reconnect with friends and family before embarking on whatever adventure the night has in store. One of the most common cocktails you are likely to encounter if you ever find yourself in this position is the Aperol spritz.

A delightful bitter
The Italians are masters of the bitter liqueur, often known as an amaro. These spirits are flavored with any number of herbs and spices to create unique drinks that are proprietary to the family or company that first made them. One such amaro, Aperol, is a delightfully light amaro with distinct citrus notes. Of course, the exact list of ingredients is a closely guarded secret, but the flavor of the drink is likely to make you instantly think of orange rind. The bright red-orange color is likely to make you think of Campari (they are both made by the same company) but Aperol is much lighter on the palate, with more sweet notes and less alcohol.

Making a spritz
Next time you are looking for a light pre-dinner drink to enjoy with friends, consider an Aperol spritz. The cocktail is incredibly easy to make, consisting of only Aperol, sparkling white wine and a splash of club soda. Try starting out with a ratio of three parts prosecco to two parts Aperol and just a splash of club soda. If you find this combination to be too bitter, hold back a bit on the Aperol. The great thing about mixing cocktails is that they can always be adjusted to taste. This drink can be served in a rocks glass over ice, garnished with an orange rind. Don’t forget to set out some salty finger foods to enjoy with your drinks. Potato chips, olives, prosciutto-wrapped melon or even tiny homemade pizzas are great snack offerings to nibble on while you enjoy your drink. Set out a pitcher of spritz and a plate of appetizers, and invite over your friends to enjoy a nice Italian-style aperitivo.

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