What is an Aperitif, Why and How to Serve it ?

You’re planning a dinner party and want it to be a hit. The food is sure to be delectable and the ambiance and decorations are planned perfectly. Now all you need to do is make sure your guests are greeted with a tasty, welcoming drink that will kickstart their appetites and have them ready to eat when dinner is served. Enter, the aperitif.

Negroni

What is an aperitif?

The word aperitif comes from a Latin root, meaning “to open,” which is exactly the purpose of the drink: to prepare the stomach for the meal and to open up the palate for tastes to be enjoyed during dinner. When you greet your dinner guests with an aperitif, you’re doing much more than simply welcoming them to your home with a cocktail, you’re getting them ready to savor every morsel you serve.

Characteristics of an aperitif

  1. They are dry. In liquors, dryness is the measure of the amount of perceived sugar in it. Aperitifs are meant to whet the appetite so they are usually bitter.
  2. They have low alcohol content, usually lower than 25% ABV. Alcohol tends to affect the appetite so the more alcohol content in the liquor, the more you lose your appetite. Aperol is a good aperitif with 11% ABV and can be drunk alone. The other aperitifs with higher ABV like the Campari (28%) and gin (45%) are meant to be mixed in cocktails to lower the ABV.

Why use it ?

An aperitif is similar to amuse-bouche in terms of food. What seems like a generous offering, in fact, serves the additional (mildly selfish) purpose of making the food you’ve prepared even more appealing! Since they’re meant to open up the palate rather than overwhelm it, aperitifs are light and crisp, and typically are around 15 to 25% alcohol.

Most of the aperitif recipes found on advancedmixology.com are made of vermouth, gin, or dry styles of wine. Additionally, there are some distilled spirits like Aperol and Campari that are used as aperitifs on their own.

Contrary to popular belief, though, cocktails are really not a good way to serve an aperitif because they are really best served on its own. The bitterness of the herbs in the aperitif signals the stomach to release digestive juices for the food that is about to be eaten

Martini

How to serve it ? 

People have been infusing wines with herbs since the 5th Century, using the new spirits as medicine, but the modern aperitif made its debut in Europe around the turn of the 19th Century. Antonio Carpano is credited as creating the first sweet vermouth recipe in Italy in 1796. Joseph Noilly of France expanded on the recipe a few years later and created the world’s first dry vermouth.

Throughout the following century, aperitifs continued to grow in popularity, eventually making it to America were early versions of martinis and Manhattans, which were heavier on vermouth than the ones found in bars today, were common.

If you’re looking to make an aperitif with one of the world’s most renowned vermouths, consider Carpano, an Italian vermouth that is one of the world’s oldest and bears the name of the creator of the drink’s first recipe. After choosing the right vermouth, try some of the aperitif recipes below to find the perfect one for your tastes and your dinner party.

As soon as the guests arrive, aperitifs are best served to welcome them as well as prepare their stomach for a meal. 

Aperitifs are best served with crackers or olives. They should be served in small portions, usually as a shot and should be served chilled or with ice.

Difference between Aperitif and Digestif?

Both aperitif and digestif are two opposite terms where one is had before the meal and the other is had post-meal. An aperitif is an alcoholic beverage that is used to prepare your palate for the drink or meal. It can either be dry or sweet. The word Aperitif is a French word that has been derived from Amuse Bouche which it had before the meal. Some of the popular aperitifs are vermouth, champagne, pastis, gin, fino, and amontillado.

A digestif, on the other hand, is an alcoholic beverage drunk after a meal. It aids the digestion of food. A digestif is never taken diluted, instead, it is consumed neat i.e without adding water. Multiple studies have shown that whenever you consume food alongside alcohol then the alcohol absorption is reduced.

How to calculate the ABV of Aperitifs? 

Making a cocktail is a good way to lower the ABV of an aperitif. Let us learn how to calculate the ABV based on the liquors mixed in a cocktail. 

For example, we are making a Negroni using this ratio:  1 ½ oz gin, ¾ oz Campari and ¾ oz sweet vermouth. We calculate it by multiplying the amount of liquor in ounces with the ABV of that liquor and divided by the total volume of the liquors. 

ABV = (1.5  x 0.45) + (0.75 x 0.17) + (0.75 x 0.28) divided by (1.5 + 0.75 + 0.75)

        = 1.02/3

        = 34% ABV or 68 proof for 3 oz of Negroni

7 Best Aperitifs that you can serve at you dinner party

Negroni


Negroni is an Italian cocktail which is made using gin and vermouth rosso. It considered an aperitif which means it will develop the taste for whats going to come!, Something typical to a negroni is that its never stirred, rather shaken and built over ice in a very old fashioned way. 

Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz. gin
  • .75 oz. Campari
  • .75 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1 large ice cube
  • Orange peel for garnish

Instructions

  1. Add gin, Campari and sweet vermouth to cocktail shaker with ice
  2. Stir
  3. Strain over large ice cube in a rocks glass
  4. Garnish with orange peel

Martini


Martini is a cocktail that is also made using gin and vermouth. You can garnish it with some olive oil or some sought of lemon twist. Martini is an all time favorite of a lot of people. It also depends of the taste of the one who drinks as in what type the person prefers. A dry martini is loved but even more popular is the perfect martini, something that has equal amount of sweet and dry vermouth. 

Ingredients

    • 2.5 oz. gin
    • .5 oz vermouth
    • Olives or lemon twist for garnish

    Instructions

    1. Add gin and vermouth to cocktail shaker with ice
    2. Stir
    3. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
    4. Garnish with olive or lemon twist

    Aperol Spritz


    When it comes to the perfect aperitif. There are several factors responsible such as the type of drink and also the time of the year. Aperol spritz is best when enjoyed in the summers. This is also a perfect example of a drink that prepares your palette for all the drinks that are going to come by. 

    Ingredients

    • 4.5 oz. brut prosecco
    • 2.5 oz. Aperol
    • ¾ oz. club soda
    • Orange slice for garnish

    Instructions

    1. Fill an all-purpose wine glass with ice
    2. Pour in club soda, Aperol and prosecco
    3. Garnish with orange slice

    Gin & Dubonnet


    As an aperitif, you want the drink to be soothing and something that prepares your palate for your meal or drink. The dubonnet cocktail has been designed such that it is a culmination of the best gin that will ever be in your liquor cabinet. This came in existence in the year 1930s. It has been served with a twist of lemon and also at times made using orange peel. A fun fact, the dubonnet is a favorite drink of Queen Elizabeth II.

    Ingredients

    • 1 ½ Ounces gin
    • ¾ ounce dubonnet rouge
    • Garnish using lemon twist

    Instructions

    1. Get all the ingredients
    2. Pour in the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes and stir well
    3. Strain into a chilled rocks glass
    4. Garnish with a lemon twist

    Fino


    Fino is a very popular aperitif and something that pro people often consume to prepare their palate. There are various versions of fino such as pedro fino, fino collins and el jerez. The flavors may be different but every version sends a strong signal to your palate to get prepared for what’s going to come next. It alerts your tongue.

    Ingredients

    Instructions

    1. Take a cocktail shaker with some ice
    2. Combine 2 ounces of dry white rum and add 3/4th ounces of fino sherry
    3. Add a quarter ounce of simple syrup
    4. Put in some orange bitter
    5. Stir all of this together for 30 seconds
    6. Once all the ice has melted, strain it and serve in a vintage wine glass.

    Fabiola

    The fabiola is a very amazing combination. It’s made using the dry vermouth matched with some grand marnier. The orange peel inside the drink just does a contrast with wine and the sweetness of the brandy. As an aperitif, you want it to be soothing but also something that goes great before any meal. You can serve a fabiola before giving your guests some lemon chicken and mushrooms.

    Ingredients

    • ¾ Ounces Sweet vermouth
    • ¾ ounce brandy
    • ¾ ounces orange liqueur

    Instructions

    1. Get all the ingredients
    2. Inside a cocktail shaker, fill it with some ice,
    3. Pour in sweet vermouth, brandy and orange liqueur
    4. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
    5. Serve and enjoy

    Campari Cocktail

    The campari cocktail is a great combination that has ingredients such as vodka and angostura bitters. You can serve this cocktail before dishes like eggplant. Campari cocktail is great before dinner parties. In terms of taste, the cocktail give a bitter aftertaste but only for good.You can add a bit of lime and some vodka as per volume that suits you the most. This makes for a really great aperitif.

    Ingredients

    Instructions

    1. Get all the ingredients
    2. Pour in the ingredients into a cocktail shaker
    3. Add ice cubes and shake well
    4. Strain into a highball glass
    5. Garnish using lemon twist
    6. Serve and enjoy

    FAQs

    Is ouzo an aperitif?

    Ouzo is a Greek aperitif made by infusing anise in some rectified spirits. It is clear as a liqueur but as soon as ice or juices are added to it, it becomes milky white. The essential oil in anise separates from the alcohol, creating a milky-white emulsion. 

    What is an anise-flavored aperitif?

    Pastis is the French version of the Greek ouzo and is anise-flavored. It is usually drunk by diluting in water and putting some sugar on your tongue before drinking the pastis. It is also used as an alternative for absinthe. It has a very ABV.  

    Ouzo is another anise-flavored aperitif. 

    Are aperitifs okay to be drunk alone?

    Aperitifs were really designed to be drunk alone, however, their bitter tastes discourages the uneducated drinker. Some aperitifs that you will love to drink before a meal are Campari, Cynar, Aperol, and gin. 

    Campari is your favorite bright red liqueur that is the classic ingrdient for Negronis. Cynar, on the other hand, can be drunk both as an aperitif and a digestif because of its very bitter taste. Aperol is the sweeter aperitif with a lower ABV of just 11% while gin has the highest ABV among the four mentioned here.  

    What other aperitifs can be used in cocktails?

    Aperitifs that can be drunk alone can also be used in making cocktails. Campari is used in making Negroni and Aperol for the ubiquitous Aperol Spritz. Cynar is a popular ingredient for the Poison Dart while gin is known for the classic Gin Tonic which enhances the bitterness in this cocktail. Pimm’s No. 1 is another aperitif that can be used in cocktails. 

    Conclusion

    Aperitifs are a good way to prepare your stomach for the food that it will have to digest. To make it work better, you might want to know more about digestifs.Read more about digestifs and cocktails here.


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