How Aperitivo Can Help You Get Ready To Eat

Aperitivo isn't just for cocktail hour, it's a way of life in Italy. Reminiscent of an American happy hour, the pre-meal drink (complete with nibbles) offers a bit of European flair, evident in classic cocktails like a bitter Aperol spritz, fizzy Hugo, or an herbaceous Negroni. But, did you know that these early evening tipples can also actually prepare you for a meal? With roots dating back to ancient Rome, Vice notes that aperitivo was actually popularized during the 19th in Turin, Italy. 

Cafès felt it was inappropriate to serve female patrons on an empty stomach — of course, the burgeoning cocktail culture and creation of vermouth were also motives for aperitivo's subsequent success. While many years have since passed, the aperitivo remains beloved by many. That said, where the Italians celebrate aperitivo, the French enjoy apéritif, and the Spaniards partake in la hora del vermut (via Imbibe). A sort of social ritual, each culture may be partial to certain cocktails or snacks, yet the concept of the pre-dinner refreshment remains very much the same — to whet the appetite.

Aperitivo stimulates the appetite

Derived from the Latin word for "open", Travel + Leisure explains that aperitivo drinks are meant to stimulate the appetite through their uniquely bitter taste. According to Food & Wine, aperitivo aren't usually sweet (nor should they be) because acidity is what triggers salvation and prompts the palate for mealtime. But that's not all. The appetite-whetting quality of aperitivo drinks actually goes a step further. 

Given that the human body is wired to presume that bitter flavors are poisonous, shares that when we consume astringent beverages, the body responds by wanting to ingest nutrients to counter the effects of the perceived poison, which is just another way that aperitivo primes the body for dinner. Usually light and crisp, Punch recommends that aperitivo cocktails be bubbly, bitter, or both, whereas snacks should be simple and salty to inspire imbibement. Anything like chips, olives, nuts, or cheeses work splendidly, just be sure not to overdo it, or else this could bleed into the territory of the more abundant apericena. Cin-Cin!