Aperitivo in Italy: Try an Aperol Spritz!

Food & Wine Venice and Veneto

The Tradition of Aperitivo & a Refreshing Recipe for Spritz, One of Italy's Most Popular Cocktails

The Italian Tradition of Aperitivo

While you’re in Italy we highly suggest trying out the tradition of "Aperitivo" before your meals. Head to a local bar between 7pm and 9pm, and if you see locals hanging around with glasses of wine and cocktails accompanied by tiny plates of appetizers and samplers of pasta, chances are you’ve found a great spot of aperitivo!

From the latin "Aperire" meaning "to open," aperitivo is the tradition of having a drink accompanied by a few appetizers before dinner. A dry, slightly bitter cocktail is a common choice as it is supposed to open the palate before a meal. Lots of bars will take this opportunity to lure in patrons with a delicious buffet of finger foods and appetizers. The etiquette is pretty simple: order your drink (either at the bar or after being seated, depending on the venue) after which you can help yourself to the buffet!

Aperol Spritz: A Classic Aperitivo Cocktail

If you’re unsure of what to order, a glass of wine or prosecco is just fine, but to try something a bit more interesting we suggest ordering an Aperol Spritz.

The Spritz originates in the Northeast of Italy, mostly in the Veneto region, in and around Venice. During the Habsburg rule of Veneto the Austrians took on the custom of drinking the local wine to relax, but weren’t used to the high alcohol content. When they started asking for a "spritzen" of water in their wine (spritzen being the German word for spray), the concept of the spritz was born.

These days it’s hard to say what the exact recipe for a Spritz is, as it will vary from city to city and even from bartender to bartender. Two common variations are white wine with soda water and either Aperol or Campari, or Prosecco with Aperol or Campari. If prefer your drinks a bit sweeter, try an Aperol Spritz, or for a slightly more bitter taste order a Campari Spritz.

We tend to prefer a nice bubbly Aperol Spritz, so here is our favorite Spritz recipe:


Aperol Spritz Recipe

  • 4-5 Ice Cubes in an old fashioned glass or small wine glass
  • 4 ounces of Prosecco
  • 2 ounces of Aperol
  • Splash of Soda Water or Club Soda (optional)
  • Orange Slice Garnish

Instructions: With the ice cubes in the glass, pour about 2 ounces of Aperol, then 4 ounces of Prosecco. Top off with a spritz of soda water or club soda if desired and garnish with a slice of Orange. Enjoy your refreshing summery cocktail with a few light apetizers and get ready for dinner!

The best thing about a Spritz is that it's easy to customize to your taste by changing the proportions of prosecco, soda, and Aperol or Campari! Since it's so simple to make, you can easily make it at home or teach your local bartender. Every time you're nostaglic for a taste of Italy you'll be able to sip a refreshing Spritz and be transported back to the canals of Venice, a view of gondolas passing underneath the Rialto Bridge in the distance.