Aperitivo Hour is the time in Italy before dinner when restaurants and bars offer a spread of small bites like cheese, meats, olives and sometimes even small pizzas and bruschetta for customers to nosh on.
The spread is totally free for anyone who orders a drink. Last week, I had the pleasure of sitting in on the Aperitivo Hour class with Joe Campanale, beverage director and co-owner of West Village favorites dell’anima, L’Artusi and Anfora. When Joe was speaking about aperitivo, I couldn’t help but relate it to our American tradition of happy hour. We flock to local bars to drink a few beers while they’re cheap, then end up eating greasy bar food to calm our stomachs.
If you ask me, that’s not very attractive. I think we could all learn a few things from Italian traditions. The key to the perfect aperitivo beverage is that it is meant be light and refreshing so it doesn’t fill you up or get you too tipsy before dinner. These drinks are typically made with Italian semi-bitter spirits such as Campari, Aperol and Cynar. Each of these three spirits has a distinct flavor and when carefully mixed, they make the perfect refreshing cocktail. Plus, it certainly doesn’t hurt when it’s paired with free food. To see all of the wine and beverage classes ICE has to offer, check out our selection of recreational culinary classes. And if you want to kick the age-old happy hour habit, stop by Anfora in the West Village for their aperitivo on Monday nights!