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Negroni And Italian Aperitivo Culture: A Passionate Love Affair

italian aperitivo culture

In Italy, you would find delectable wines and delicious foods, and you would also find a very flourishing cocktail culture that involves blending different spirits with sweet and bitter mixers for crafting truly signature drinks. Here, along with exquisite repasts you will also find a very enriching culture of enjoying these meals, marked by some interesting culinary practices. One such Italian ritual is the practice of drinking aperitivo, or a pre-meal drink to awaken your appetite. 

Of Aperitivo Culture

The culture of sipping on an aperitivo can be traced back to 18th century Turin when the Italian distiller Antonio Benedetto Carpano is said to have crafted the vermouth, an aromatised wine that became instrumental in popularising the culture of having a pre-meal tipple. This little ritual quickly spread across several Italian regions and another century later, the iconic Campari, a bitter liqueur, was born. It became popular in Milan and would soon be a very inviting component in several cocktails.

italian aperitivo and negroni

As a dining practice, Italians were quite on point to name drinks made out of liqueurs like vermouth, aperol or campari cocktails as the aperitivo, which originates from the Latin word aperire, meaning ‘to open’ the stomach before a large meal. So, many cocktails containing these delightfully light, aromatised and subtly charged liqueurs have become very popular as an aperitivo to be enjoyed in the early evening after finishing work and before sitting down to dinner. A typical aperitivo fare then includes a spread of crackers, olives, select meats and cheeses and soft, fresh bread.

Negroni And Aperitivo Culture

If there is one cocktail which has endured as a favourite part of the aperitivo culture, it is the negroni, a bitter and low alcoholic drink that lightly seduces your taste buds. Generally an aperitivo drink contains very little boozy content and in keeping with this tradition, the negroni is crafted using sweet vermouth and campari, coupled with a hint of gin.

The cocktail originated in Florence in 1919 and brought together two bittersweet liqueurs to arrive at a distinctly fresh blend that well stimulates the appetite. According to certain bartending records, the drink seems to have been named after Count Camillo Negroni who requested an Americano but with a kick while at Caffe Giacosa in the city. The drink that was served him included the additional buzz of gin which packed the cocktail with a refreshing spike and later on, this concoction came to be named after the count.

A Romantic Flavour Balance

More than a century later, the cocktail has retained its popularity for its particular bittersweet notes and a distinctly herby and spicy flavour that comes from the sweet vermouth and gin. Moreover, the botanical notes in the booze paired with the sweet cherry and citrus flavours of the Campari work to balance the different tastes in the mix for a stunningly complex combination of ingredients.

italian aperitivo negroni

According to VinePair, a simple negroni recipe involves mixing equal proportions gin, campari and vermouth so that the different flavours come together well to produce a nuanced and layered drink. Thus begins the passionate love affair between the negroni and aperitivo culture. Negroni is a versatile cocktail which stimulates your appetite before a meal and can be enjoyed during any season.

The same article cautions the mixology aficionado that while the recipe for negroni might appear simple, one should never rush the process of making this cocktail. Just as a passionate relationship involves a slow and seductive dance, so too mixing the vermouth and campari with a botanically rich gin involves carefully measuring your ingredients, keeping the drink cool and most of all, choosing the right variety of liqueurs before you make it in batches.

The next time you head out early in the evening, you can opt for the negroni’s bold and bittersweet character, its romantic red hue and its delectable flavour as a perfect cocktail choice that will open up your appetite for an interesting dinner that would follow.

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