Aperitivo literally translates to “aperitif”, or a pre-dinner cocktail. In a more colloquial sense, it’s what the Italians call happy hour. And oh what a happy hour it is. Imagine a buffet with a wide variety appetizers, main courses, and desserts. Now imagine paying €10 for said buffet. That’s an aperitivo.
Restaurants that offer aperitivo usually do so between the hours of 6:00PM and 9:00PM. It works like this: you order one drink (cocktail, wine, beer, etc.) for a fair price of around €8-€12. Upon receiving that drink, you’re welcome to help yourself to the buffet. Milano is famous for having excessively generous buffets at their aperitivo in comparison to other parts of Italy. In this city, it’s totally kosher to pile your plate high with meats, cheeses, pastas, fried treats, and more, as well as to go up for seconds (or thirds, no joke).
A typical aperitivo in Milan looks like this:
So what are you going to drink with all this grub? A spritz of course! Spritz is a cocktail that consists of prosecco, orange liqueur, and soda water. A spritz can be made using Aperol (sweet) or Campari (bitter). If you’re feeling more bold, try a negroni: a cocktail made of gin, orange bitters, and red vermouth.