Times Are Changing: The Undisputed Rise of the Italian Aperitivo

by | Mar 17, 2021

Unfrozen In Culture 

Aperire, Aprire…Aperitivo. Little has changed from the original Latin and Italian translation ‘to open’. A drink with a powerful, textured history – the aperitivo has ingrained it’s way into the veins of Italian culture. From humble medicinal beginnings, the Italian bitter best-friend is blooming everywhere from cosmopolitan hubs to rural gastro-pubs; impressing us all along the way. 

On the cobbled row’s of Milan between 7pm-9pm; the aperitivo comes out to play. Hailing historical promises of appetite stimulation, the impeccably dressed waiters flood the tables with vivid, effervescent refreshments, coupled perfectly with demure plates of food. Appetite officially stimulated, the families and restaurant-goers of Italy await in anticipation for the meal that follows. 

The aperitivo has been frozen in Italian patrimony until not too long ago. Now, the bustling back-streets of London are alight with the dazzling colours of Aperol and Campari. The cheeky spritz has become an after-work staple for many, replacing the hefty glass of red or the fattening pint. 

A Guilt-Free Tiple 

From appetite stimulator to social elegance; the British have acquired quite a taste for the low-alcohol, quick and easy thirst quencher. Regardless of its impressive heritage, the drink has been welcomed into the open arms of cocktails bars and restaurants across the UK. If it isn’t to inspire a pre-meal craving, why are these drinks becoming increasingly popular? 

Trends are the cultural moods of society. Representing our dislikes and desires, they come and go akin to the whims of an emotional teenager. Wellness and self-care are characteristic trends that often rival the hedonistic excess of cosmopolitan cities. This being said, the aperitivo fits like a bespoke glove into the psyche of health-conscious drinkers. Rather than ruining a well-maintained diet for a few glasses of wine or a sugary cocktail, many avid drinkers are opting for the healthy, low-calorie Aperol spritz or Campari. Surpassing the meal-based practicality, the aperitivo seems to also be a proven way to enjoy a guilt-free drink for those who worry. Perhaps this is why the Italians seem to get away with excessive eating and drinking without the belt-busting. 

The Great Taste Shift 

So, a cheeky aperitivo has become a secret weapon in the armoury of dieting drinkers. Yet it has become so much more than that. An influx in overall healthier eating messages has bolstered the sales of global aperitivo brands. Shifting away from sugar based liquor towards

more plant-based ingredients generally means more bitter flavouring, hence the wave of new bitters flooding a culture-driven market. 

Dwindling are the days of binge-driven consumption, and in their place emerges an awareness of balance and appreciation. Heavy, sugary cocktails riddled with complexity are making way for aperitivos alongside bijou plates of food; ensuring stability and simplicity with a complimentary bitterness. One thing is for sure, the Italians certainly know what they’re doing. 

New Realms 

The low alcohol content of the aperitivo gives a softening edge to the abundance of high level spirits that pervade the concoctions of our pubs, bars and restaurants. The drinks market is starting to take a fancy to low or no alcohol drinks, and it seems consumers couldn’t agree more. Companies are adopting non-alcoholic strategies that bring the relevance of the drink into the other niche’s of drink consumption. Hot on the triumphant heels of the mocktail, companies like Tuscan Tree are merging the acquired taste for the bitter aperitivo into the non-alcoholic, low calorie sector; seizing the haunches of new cultural trends.

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