The Art of the Aperitivo

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 11 Apr 2017

The people of Italy, along with many of their European neighbours, have long enjoyed a pre-dinner drink known as the "aperitivo". Typically these drinks are low in alcohol, which helps to stimulate the appetite, and prepare the consumer for the meal which lies ahead. More often than not they have a dry and bitter or spicy flavour, or they are fortified or aromatized wines, such as sherry or vermouth.

The theory is that these types of drinks developed in the 16th century when alcohol was infused with blends of herbs, spices or roots in the search for medicinal cures. Gradually people discovered that they were totally ineffectual in the treatment of ailments but that they tasted delicious, so continued to drink and enjoy them. The first recipe for vermouth was developed in 1796 and in the ensuing centuries more and more of these style of drinks were produced commercially. Here are some of our favourites and they are certainly "aperitivi" that you will be able to try and enjoy on Hedonistic Hiking tours.

Aperol Spritz

A lovely tangy orange flavour with around 11 % alcohol which is utterly delicious mixed with prosecco, a splash of soda and a generous slice of fresh orange. The exact recipe remains a secret but bitter and sweet oranges as well as rhubarb are included.

Campari Soda

With a more intense bitterness to it than Aperol, Campari's distinctive bright red liquid is delicious mixed with soda water and fresh orange slices. This is another recipe which remains a secret but is apparently unchanged since it was perfected in the 1860s by Gaspare Campari.


The more potent Negroni aperitivo sees Campari mixed in equal thirds with gin and sweet red vermouth to make a mouthwatering drink best served over ice.


For those hiking with us on our France and Italy tour then the south eastern corner of France is home to this strongly flavoured aniseed  liqueur which is actually a watered-down version of absinthe. To drink it, you dilute it with cold water, and ice if you like it extra-cold, which turns it cloudy.

 Kir and Kir Royale

This French creation pairs dry white wine (traditionally chilled Aligoté from Burgundy), or Champagne for the Kir Royale, with a blackcurrant liqueur known as Crème de Cassis.

Hugo Spritz

A very popular drink emanating from the South Tyrol region, this wonderfully refreshing aperitivo mixes elderflower syrup with chilled prosecco, a dash of soda, a twist of lemon and leaf or two of fresh mint. Definitely one to try on our Austria and the Dolomites tour.

Champagne or Prosecco

Of course if you are not attracted by the bright colours and zingy zesty flavours of other aperitivi, you can just as happily begin your evening with a glass of Champagne or Prosecco.


If you want to avoid alcohol altogher, but would like to get an idea of these flavours, then San Pellegrino make a non-alcoholic bright red drink known in Italy as Sanbitter which replicates the bitter herbal bite of Campari. The Campari company also makes a sparkling non-alcoholic bitter aperitivo known as Crodino.