Italian Aperitivo – The culture

Italian Aperitivo – The Culture

The Italian Aperitivo is an evening tradition when friends get together to enjoy light beverages, small snacks, and each other.

From around 7-9 p.m., bartenders all over Italy serve light fare to groups of people who just got out of work – people who are looking for a way to relax after a long day before they have to get home to prepare dinner for their families.

The food and drink served during Aperitivo are carefully selected to bridge the gap between lunch and dinner, but not fill the stomach too much before the final meal of the day. In fact, chefs and mixologists use ingredients that are meant to stimulate the appetite rather than satiate it.

Italian Aperitivo
Appetizers table with italian antipasti snacks and wine in glasses. Brushetta or authentic traditional spanish tapas set, cheese variety board over grey concrete background.

The Aperitivo Tradition Throughout Italy

Aperitivo is a northern Italian tradition. It is said that Milan, Italy is the best place to enjoy Aperitivo – the bars are packed with people who are excited to be off work, flair bartenders are whipping up cocktails at warp speed, and the menus are filled with incredible options for food and drink.


Usually, bars and restaurants in northern Italy will set up a buffet at the same time every evening so guests can enjoy snacks at their leisure

As you travel south, Aperitivo becomes less and less popular. Some establishments in southern Italy (Rome, Florence, Naples) have an ample Aperitivo scene, but some establishments find Aperitivo to be a bit undignified. It’s not unusual for Aperitivo to get a bit rowdy!

Italian Aperitivo - Antipasti Board
Marble cutting board with prosciutto, bacon, salami and sausages on wooden background. Meat platter


That being said, the drinks served at Aperitivo are typically lower in alcohol content than drinks served after dinner or during a night out. This is to hopefully avoid anyone getting too inebriated before sitting down at the dinner table.

Popular Aperitivo Cocktails

The most popular Aperitivo cocktails are made with fresh herbs, bitter flavors, and effervescent liquids – these are meant to prime the stomach and stimulate the appetite.

Here is a list of popular Aperitivo cocktails in Italy:


The Bellini is a popular Aperitivo cocktail, but it is also delicious with breakfast or brunch.

  • 4 oz Prosecco
  • 6oz fresh peach nectar

 Hugo Spritz

Although the Hugo Spritz is traditionally made with elderflower syrup, it is often made with Sambucus syrup because elderflower was difficult to come by.

  • 2 oz Prosecco
  • 2 oz seltzer
  • 1 oz elderberry syrup
  • Fresh mint leaves

 Aperol Spritz

The Aperol Spritz may also be called the Spritz Trevigiano, as an homage to where it originated.

  • Half glass of white wine or Prosecco
  • Quarter glass of bitters (Aperol, Cynar, or Campari)
  • Top off with seltzer


It has the same name as the coffee beverage, but this popular Aperitivo cocktail couldn’t be more different than a cup of java.

  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz Red Vermouth
  • Top with seltzer


The Negroni was invented by Count Camillo Negroni in Florence, Italy in 1919. It was his way of spiking the traditional Americano cocktail.

  • Equal parts gin, bitter Campari, and Red Vermouth
  • Shake with ice
  • Pour into a glass over ice
  • Garnish with a burnt orange peel


Hire Bar Brothers for Your Italian Aperitivo Event

Do you want the best flair bartenders and mixologists to help host your next Aperitivo event? Bar Brothers Events has the perfect team for hire! Give us a call to work out the details. In the meantime, check out our website and list of Bar Services

Share this page