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Aperitivo: Italy’s Magical Pre-dinner Hour

In-Person Program with Tasting

Evening Program

Wednesday, March 22, 2023 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1D0008
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)
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Kick off the evening as the Italians do and learn about the tradition of aperitivo: the informal gathering of friends for a pre-dinner drink, socializing, and hors d'oeuvres. Typically built around an aperitivo—or cocktail—paired with a small snack, this stylish variation on happy hour originated in northern Italy in 1786, and still takes place in the best bars and restaurants of Venice, Turin, and beyond.

Food historian Francine Segan dishes on the tradition’s delicious history: iconic cocktails like Negroni, Bellini, Aperol Spritz and Americano; and many regional appetizer specialties topping toasted bread, crostini, and the domed panettone gastronomico.

Learn about the history behind classic aperitivo ingredients like prosciutto di Parma, mortadella, mozzarella, and more recently, pasta. Discover Venice’s famous answer to tapas—cicchetti—and how the aperitivo continues to play an important role in Italy’s social life.

A reception after the program offers tastings of regional specialties and recipes for aperitivo cocktails and simple-to-make classic Italian appetizers.

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