Kick off the evening as the Italians do, and learn about the tradition of aperitivo: the informal way that friends meet for a pre-dinner drink, socializing, and hors d'oeuvres. Typically built around a cocktail (also called an aperitivo) paired with a small snack, this stylish variation on happy hour originated in Milan, but can be found in the best bars and restaurants of Venice, Turin, and beyond.
Marisa Huff, author of the new book, Aperitivo: The Cocktail Culture of Italy (Rizzoli) examines the elements of this tradition, covering variations on all the classic drinks, including the Negroni, the Bellini, and the Spritz, and stopping at the chicest bars that have elevated this ritual to an art form. Many of the drinks are structured around vermouths and other botanical-infused liqueurs, which offer complex flavors that refresh without stunning the palate thanks to a lighter alcohol content. But aperitivo is just as much about the food, because in Italy, drinking and eating go hand in hand.
In conversation with Ian Wolff, former wine & spirits editor for La Cucina Italiana magazine, Huff shares how you can enjoy aperitivo’s spirit of conviviality and Italian style at home. After the program, partake in a light aperitivo-inspired reception courtesy of Urbana Dining & Drinks.
Huff is a James Beard Award–nominated writer whose work has appeared in La Cucina Italiana, Wine & Spirits, and The Art of Eating. Copies of her book are available for purchase and signing.