The history of the Italian aperitif. Do you know her?

by Redazione Fine Taste

Today we talk about an icon of our time: the aperitif! We tell you the story of the Italian aperitif.

And a world opens…

A book wouldn't be enough to talk about this Italian tradition, all the anecdotes linked to it, the cocktail preferences, the most suitable moments to appreciate it, the selection of accompanying appetizers...

And rightly so: the aperitif is so rooted in our culture that everyone must feel free to decide at will, without pre-established rules and in complete freedom how to do it, when to drink it and where to drink it!

We are Milanese and Milan is considered the city of the aperitif par excellence.

Indeed, for us the aperitif ritual is a real must. An unmissable moment of the day. It's hard to say NO to the aperitif. It takes an effort of will.

In reality, we have noticed in our frequent trips along our peninsula, the aperitif moment is now common to almost all areas of Italy.

In addition to the classic holiday places, it is increasingly common to see people calmly sitting enjoying an aperitif, having a chat and spending moments of healthy relaxation.

After all, how could it be otherwise: the aperitif is joyful and lifts the mood. Relax after a day of work or prepare for the night ahead. The choices are endless, from alcoholic to non-alcoholic drinks, from dry drinks to sweeter ones, from slightly alcoholic ones to more robust ones.

The Italian aperitif offers an endless menu of snacks and drinks. It is an intergenerational tradition, enjoyed by both young and old. A time of day when you can meet friends, family, socialize and enjoy a glass of excellent aperitif.

But are we really sure that the aperitif moment is a recent conquest?

Actually no! Hear, hear, the tradition of the Italian aperitif dates back to the Roman Empire!

History of the aperitif

The aperitif was already a common habit in Roman times: the Roman gustatio.

At the time it was called gustatio and consisted of preparing for dinner with a snack of tasty appetizers capable of stimulating the appetite and sipping mulsum, a flavored wine with a high alcohol content and usually mixed with honey and flavored with spices.

To be fair, it must be specified that the gustatio concerned exclusively sumptuous banquets with a large number of participants, in order to allow, between one bite and another, a way of socialising.

It goes without saying that in the lower strata of the population, where bringing a meal to the table every day was anything but simple and obvious, this custom was completely unknown.

So mulsum and appetizers before a meal: flat breads similar to focaccias served with savory sauces or cheeses, fruit and lots of crudités, because the Romans already knew that raw vegetables before a meal were good for you!

As you can understand, thousands of years have passed, but ancient Rome is still trending when it comes to aperitifs!

Turin: birth of the modern Italian aperitif

If the aperitif ritual was born in Ancient Rome, Turin plays a fundamental role in the birth of the "modern" aperitif.

Let us remember that in Rome, gustatio was the prerogative only of the elite. A tradition that was maintained throughout the Middle Ages, but always and only when the rich could afford it.

Creation of Vermouth

In Turin, exactly in 1786, the distiller Antonio Benedetto Carpano created something new: Vermouth. Vermouth was obtained from Moscato white wine, with the addition of 30 aromatic herbs and spices. This drink had a distinct, particular flavor.

Carpano used vanilla, saffron, absinthe and other special ingredients to make his Vermouth. He called it the "Ancient Formula", and it has remained so until today, jealously guarded.

The Vermouth was an immediate success. Because it was delicious and convenient. This drink had an invigorating, heart-warming flavor, perfect during those harsh winters beneath the Alps. It was no longer for the rich. It was for everyone! Here is the birth of the Italian aperitif as we all know it today.

Consecration and cult of the Italian aperitif

The consecration of the aperitif arrived, however, at the beginning of the 20th century thanks to the spread of carbonated waters and Seltz, such as the popular Campari Soda, the ruby ​​red mix of Campari and Seltz. Its inverted cone-shaped bottle created in 1932 is now a true design icon. In the same period, popular mixes such as Spritz, Bitter, Rossini were also born.

What more can I say? The aperitif with its cheerful yet elegant nature is a staple in Italy and is becoming increasingly popular around the world. An Italian tradition with thousands of years of history and millions of admirers everywhere. Relaxing and fresh, there is no better way to end the day, or start the evening with a Spritz, a Negroni, a Martini accompanied by tasty appetizers and the company of good friends.

To your health!