Aperitivo is popping up more and more, and for good reason. What is it you ask? It’s not only a category of light, alcohol-based drinks but also the Italian way of unwinding after a long workday while enjoying cocktails and small bites before dinner.
Lucky for us, the idea of aperitivo has caught on at several Lettuce Entertain You restaurants. We sat down with LEYE beverage expert Ryan Arnold to his take on tapping into la dolce vita (the sweet life), what they enjoy drinking for aperitivo and how (and where!) guests can do the same.
Aperitivo is that it’s intended to stimulate the appetite, to literally make you salivate and make you hungry. The drinks are low in alcohol, too, so it allows you to have a few with friends, then go on with the rest of your night.
Aperitivo drinks are based off dry or bitter alcohols, like Campari, Aperol or vermouth. The Aperol Spritz, Negroni and Americano are prime examples. The cocktails can also be wine- or sparkling wine-based, too. Think the French 75 or the Peach Bellini made famous by Harry’s Bar in Venice.
The Negroni (left) at il Porcellino and the Bellini (right) at RPM Italian
“Aperitivo isn’t just ‘happy hour’ with drink specials that we’re accustom to, but really it’s the chance to sit down, relax and catch up with friends in a casual environment, sipping on refreshing drinks before having a larger meal,” says LEYE Wine Director, Ryan Arnold. “One of my favorites to enjoy over good conversation is the classic Negroni.”
To get started on where to enjoy aperitivo with friends or how to replicate it at home, read on…
Friends enjoying an after-apertivo meal at Osteria Via Stato
River North’s favorite Italian-American comfort food spot serves aperitivo every Monday – Thursday from 4pm – 6pm in the bar area, where select glasses of wine and the classic Negroni are just $6 each. Best of all, the Antipasti Board – loaded with salumi, cheese, marinated olives and fresh baked ciabatta – is just $7.or only $5.95.
Celebrating “Afternoon Aperitivo” every day of the week from 4-6pm, Osteria via Stato encourages guests to unwind with a selection of wine, sangria and beer for only $5, along with complimentary Italian small plates that include house-marinated olives, roasted balsamic garlic and ciabatta bread. Chat with friends up at the bar, out on the patio, and in the pizzeria while enjoying Osteria’s delicious aperitivo specials.
From left to right: Raspberry Gin, Blueberry Vodka and Peach Whiskey at Osteria via Stato
RPM Italian in both Chicago and Washington, D.C. celebrate Aperitivo Hour every Monday through Friday from 4-6 pm in the bar area. Enjoy select cocktails, wines by the glass and antipasti for just $7 – $8 and cicchetti and for $4 – $5, including Big Eye Tuna on garlic toast; Prosciutto Involtini with buffalo mozzarella; and Fried Olives with fennel sausage. RPM Italian DC also offers an array of pizzettes – Vermont Pepperoni, Cremini Mushroom with truffle and fontina funduta or Pizza Fritta, for just $5.
Whether an evening out with friends to partake in light refreshments before your dinner or entertaining at home, we encourage you to check out the joys of aperitivo to get you one step closer to la dolce vita.