Aperitivo time: Best Aperitifs For Your Party

An important part of French, Italian and other European dining traditions, aperitifs have taken over the rest of the world. We explore what people drink all over Europe and share with you the best aperitivo cocktail ideas for your party menu.

What is an aperitif, exactly?

The Italian word aperitivo originates from the Latin aperire, which means "to open." It's an apt term - crisp, clean, light and aromatic, spirit or wine-based aperitifs are most often enjoyed on their own – or further diluted with soda, juice, and ice, and they open the palate to allow us to enjoy the scents and flavours of the food that follows.

In France, the most popular aperitifs are wine-based and flavoured with plants and spices. If you enjoy red wines, consider trying Dubonnet. It's usually served with sparkling water or soda, though the Queen reportedly prefers mixing two parts of this liqueur with one part of gin. For white wine fans, Lillet iis a perfect choice. It has a honey-like texture which underpins the soft citrusy and spicy notes. For those who like something stronger, check out Pastis, an aniseed flavoured French spirit which is diluted with water to become an opaque yellow.

Italians invented the world's most famous aperitif – spritz. Its traditional version, Spritz Veneziano or Aperol Spritz, includes Prosecco wine, Aperol liqueur and soda water. For those seeking something less sweet, there's Cynar: blended from 13 herbs and plants, including artichoke, it's an amaro liqueur, famous for its stomach-soothing qualities and generally has a low alcohol and sugar content.
American drinkers prefer aperitifs in a typically North American way: mixed in cocktails to classic recipes such as the Martini, Manhattan, Negroni, Americano or Bronx. The top three quintessential ingredients for American-style aperitifs are:

  • Vermouth is a fortified wine flavoured with botanicals, among whom Martini & Rossi and Noilly Prat are some of the best known and available in red (aka sweet or Italian) and white (aka dry or French) varieties
  • Campari is the perfect choice for lovers of bitter, herbal and grapefruit flavours.
  • Aperol is sweet and citrusy with a distinctive zing of rhubarb.

Chaika's Choice

Here are some favourite aperitifs from our team. They all are perfect cocktail choices for your summer celebration or garden party.

Porto-Tonico

Our new G&T is Portuguese's favourite Port & Tonic or Porto Tónico. Consisting of white port (a fortified wine made from white Douro Valley grapes), tonic water, and a citrus garnish, the porto tónico is highly refreshing, wonderfully low in alcohol, and exceedingly easy to make.
Aperitif cocktail idea from Portugal: Porto Tonico

Limoncello Spritz

Instead of sweet Aperol Spritz, we prefer mixing this with a lemon-flavoured liqueur. Mix two parts Limoncello with four parts Prosecco and two parts soda water, add a lemon slice for garnish and experiment with some herbs. We'd recommend mint or thyme as the perfect addition to this refreshing aperitif.
Refreshing aperitif cocktail: Limoncello Spritz

Frosé

Frosé, or frozen rosé, is a slushy aperitif made with rosé wine, sweet Vermouth and pureed strawberries. To add some bite to this sugary mix, mix in some lemon or cranberry juice.

The secret to making a perfect frosé at home is to freeze the wine rather than just chill the bottle. This trick was invented in Bar Primi in New York in 2016 and has become the ultimate summer drink all over the USA in recent years.
Sweet and freezing aperitif cocktail: Strawberry Frose

Elderflower Spritzer

We adore this stronger variation of spritz cocktail that replaces wine with gin. To prepare it at home, fill a chilled highball glass with ice cubes and your favourite gin, then pour on elderflower cordial and top up with fresh tonic. Garnish with lime or cucumber.
Strong aperitif cocktail: Elderflower Spritzer with gin

Pet-Nat

Pétillant Naturel (or Pét-Nat) wine is a sparkling natural wine, bottled before the alcoholic fermentation has finished, making it as natural as sparkling wine gets. In the Loire Valley, France, a lot of wine producers make a Pét-Nat just for an aperitif. We believe this cloudy wine is the perfect choice for those who don't like cocktails and mixers.


Check our more natural wine recommendation in our previous post.
Natural wine aperitif: sparkling pet nat
Are you looking for a mixologist or bartender for your summer party? Give us a call, and we'll arrange a bespoke drinks menu, perfect party catering and any other aspect of your celebration, including decor, styling, and entertainment. It's summertime so let's #CelebrateToday