We love the concept of the daily Aperitivo, quintessentially Italian, it’s the time for coming together with friends and family over a drink and nibbles. Many bars in Italy offer complimentary snacks when you order your drinks and we are not just talking about a bowl of salted peanuts! My co-founder and partner, Dan, introduced me to the art of Italian Aperitivo when we visited Sardinia on our first holiday together and we’ve not looked back!
Read on for our recommendations for a few ways to replicate an Italian Aperitivo at home over a Prosecco or Campari cocktail . . . Warning, this could become your new favourite time of the day!
Preparing the nibbles
In the summer, our Aperitivo can sometimes distract us from dinner! We love sitting outside with friends after work and usually quickly rustle up a platter of cheeses, olives, prosciutto, nuts, grapes and figs, when in season.
Create the perfect backdrop to your delicious nibbles, with a luxe linen tablecloth and coordinating napkins. We simply love the range by Once Milano, all handcrafted in Venice and in over 20 delicious colours.
Some Italian Aperitivo nibbles suggestions
If you have time and want to create some authentic snacks, why not try:
Crostini are crispy little slices of toasted bread with delicious toppings such as tapenade, cured meats, soft cheeses or seasonal vegetables. Substitute the bread for slices of polenta for gluten free guests – I was introduced to this by Dan’s “mamma” and it is way more delicious than it sounds, especially when topped with melted cheese and served with cornichons!
Arancini originated in Sicily – they are made of risotto that’s been formed into a little ball then coated in breadcrumbs and fried. Sometimes, they’ll be filled with meat, cheese or vegetables. A great way to use up risotto leftovers!
Polpette are miniature meatballs, easy to make at home. We generally use beef mince and combine with whatever we have handy such as garlic, onions, parsley and pine nuts, some breadcrumbs and an egg to bind.
Outdoor tables ideas
For more compact spaces, bar tables like Amélie are a great idea:
A large low table can also work really well and feel more relaxed:
For larger gatherings, why not sit around the Ottocento:
Setting the atmosphere
Nothing beats beautiful lighting for adding atmosphere to your table, especially when the sun goes down.
We always bring our Davide Groppi TeTaTet lamp outside to bring atmosphere to the table when the sun is going down. It is probably the most talked about home accessory we have and the one people often want to buy after seeing it first hand!
We also have the Lenta lamp by Davide Groppi which we use in the courtyard directly from our dining space – it makes it feel like another room and just looks magical.
Blankets and throws just in case it gets cold!
We generally have blankets to hand, just in case the temperature becomes a little too cool when the sun has gone down. We’ve got several Bemboka cashmere and cotton blankets which we’ve had for years and use year round – fireside in winter and al fresco in summer!
My pick of Aperitivo drinks
And what would an Italian Aperitivo be without drinks to go alongside the nibbles, here are 4 of my favourite Italian inspired summer sundowners . . . enjoy!
- 30ml of elderflower cordial
- 1 dash of soda water
- Prosecco, to top up
- Fresh mint
Method: This is a lovely refreshing Anglo-Italian drink with the combination of elderflower and Prosecco!. Scoop a handful of ice into a large wine glass along with some torn mint leaves. Add the elderflower cordial with a splash of soda water then top up with Prosecco. Give a quick stir and garnish with a wheel of lime.
- 50ml limoncello (infused with thyme)
- 60ml prosecco
- 30ml soda
- Thyme sprig
Method: Fill a wine glass with ice. Pour over the limoncello and top up with the prosecco and soda. Stir with a long spoon, then garnish with the thyme sprig, it honestly makes a big difference.
- Fresh Orange Juice
- Slice of orange peel to garnish
Method: This is actually a real favourite of mine and reminds me of being a child and seeing my parents drinking what looked like a very sophisticated and beautifully coloured cocktail. The Garibaldi is a simple two-ingredient Italian cocktail made with Campari and orange juice – definitely use freshly squeezed orange juice and it is delicious with blood oranges when in season. I generally use about 25% Campari to 75% mixer, but I don’t always measure exactly!
- Fresh orange – juice and slices
Method: Probably the most well known of the Italian Aperitivo, I’ve deliberately chosen not to give precise proportions as I think this is very much a personal choice. The official proportions are 3 parts Prosecco, 2 parts Aperol and 1 part soda, but I tend to use a large glass, lots of ice, approx 1 part Aperol, 3-4 parts Prosecco, a small top up of soda and a squeeze of fresh orange juice, plus a slice or too of orange. It’s all about experimenting and I generally have to mix a few to get it exactly right!
For lots of Italian lifestyle and design ideas, visit houseofdome.com.