There’s a reason Americans have a fluttery weak spot for all things Italian — Our well-shod, chic crushes always seem to get it right. From fashion to elegance, design to casual coolness, the American love affair with Italy is well deserved and refreshingly neverending. The latest trend of Italian emulation is the rise of the aperitivo — a nosh of this and a drop of that all served up in fancy glassware.

Roughly translated as “opener” or “to open” it refers to sipping on a drink as an appetizer or a pre-dinner ritual. Add in some snacks (everyone loves a snack), and wah-lah. Rather than ponying up for the standard happy hour with deep fried cheese sticks and two-for-one-doubles, Americans are foregoing the heavy booze and snacks for the lighter and more healthy aperitivo. 

Millennials are especially on board with that light booze life. Gone are the days of embarrassingly whispering to the bartender that you’ll have the Rosa-Rita Mocktail, please. Now, booze free and low-ABV aperitifs are the it beverages of the summer. 

Back in its homeland, the aperitivo is traditionally served an hour or so before Nonna slides the first dinner course onto the table. Someone pours the group a spritz or pops open a bottle of prosecco while the ubiquitous small bowls of salty snacks hit the table. Think: potato chips, olives, and likely some nuts. 

Here in America we’re taking the long held Italian tradition and putting our red, white, and blue twist on it. Cue up the band and hold onto your happy hour hats, here are a few things you’ll want to consider serving up at your next aperitivo gathering.

The Rise of the Aperitivo: Taking A Page from the Italian Playbook

Drink Haus, a new liqueur brand

With a focus on natural ingredients and direct to consumer selling, the low-ABV alcohol brand Haus is making a sure bet on the rise of the aperitivo culture. Made with fruits, herbs, and botanicals grown on their Sonoma farm, their first flavor Citrus+Flower, is giving you all of the flavor without the headache. Buy a bottle or join their waitlist to get a bottle (or two) of their next release.

Aperol spritz, the drink of the Italian summer

Aperol Spritz, the drink of the summer in Italy

Whether you’re team Aperol Spritz or would rather pass, there’s no denying that since Aperol’s huge marketing push in 2017, there has been an uptick in spritz consumption even prompting the hashtag #spritzlife across social media platforms. If Aperol feels too sweet to your palette, consider its bitter sister, Campari, which some consider a better choice all around.

First introduced to the Hugo by food and travel blogger, Maria Pasquale while lounging on what’s arguably the best view rooftop in all of Rome. This delightfully light concoction is served with plenty of torn mint and lime, followed by a mix of St. Germain, a splash of soda water and prosecco. As stylish as it is tasty, it’s the perfect hand ornament and pairs easily with both far flung rooftops and Friday afternoon gatherings in the neighborhood.

Hotel Borromini Terrazza sipping drinks

Terrazza Borromini overlooking Navona sipping on a Hugo with Maria.

If you’re hosting a more traditional crowd, bypass the above and serve them up a thirst-quenching Paloma. Deemed the Aperol Spritz of summer of 2019 by actress Busy Phillips, the Paloma is a delicious tequila based drink mixed with a healthy dose of grapefruit juice, lime and some soda thrown in. A pink hue waiting to be enjoyed, it’s the true definition of summer refreshment in a glass.

Paloma the drink of summer 2019

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