• 2022.05.11
  • I love aperitifs!
When I was a kid, I remember watching foreign films with scenes where people would arrive at a restaurant and be shown to the bar, sit on bar stools, cross their legs, and enjoy a cocktail while they waited for their reservation to be ready—or else they’d order an aperitif at the bar while waiting for their dining companion to arrive. The cocktails always looked so stylish when they came out, and I hoped that it was one of the things I’d be able to do when I grew up. Unfortunately, I’ve never had an aperitif experience quite so glamorous.

If you’re hungry and you take your seat, enjoy a delicious meal, and are satiated by it—shouldn’t that be enough? It once seemed to me that having an aperitif would just dull your precious appetite and sense of taste—so I never even considered ordering one. Total cold shoulder.

It was only after moving to Italy that I became an aperitif fan. They’re very common in northern Italy, with some cocktails obviously more popular than others in general. The two most classic ones are the Negroni and the Spritz.

The Negroni originated in Florence. It’s a red cocktail made with Campari, vermouth, and gin over ice and garnished with a slice of orange. It’s a strong drink that hits the taste buds hard and finishes bitter—maybe it’s just me, but it seems best suited to a dapper gentleman. Meanwhile, cocktails have hidden meanings like the language of flowers. Negroni, for example, means “first love.” To me, the flavor of it doesn’t match the name at all… “The Dapper” would be a better one.

There’s another version of the Negroni that apparently means “pseudo-Negroni,” but a direct translation would be more like “Negroni fail.” This one hails from Milan, and was created when a bartender mistakenly added sparkling wine instead of gin when trying to make a Negroni. The pseudo-Negroni has the same red color, but it’s a milder cocktail that wears off a bit more easily.

The other classic aperitif is the Spritz, originally from Venice. It has a similar color to the Negroni, but it’s a tall drink with an orangish-red hue served over ice.

I’ve never asked what secret meaning the Spritz has, so to me it means “welcome.” Like the Negroni, the Spritz has both a heavy and a lighter version—but that doesn’t mean you can just walk up to the bar and order a “pseudo-Spritz.” A Spritz is made by mixing sparkling (or white) wine with Campari liqueur and adding carbonated water. The lighter version uses Aperol liqueur instead of Campari.

Incidentally, the appetizers they serve with aperitifs in Milan can range from potato chips to hot dishes you’d swear are part of your actual meal. It could truly be anything, but personally I think that casual snacking best suits the aperitif experience. The ideal appetizers are just simple chips or olives.

If you ever come to Milan, try ordering a pseudo-Negroni, thinking way back to memories of your first love, and transforming into a pseudo-dapper gentleman!


  • Yuriko Mikami
  • AgeDog (INU)
  • GenderFemale
  • JobMusician

A cellist based in Milan. Performs as a soloist also with some ensembles. Has a wide range of genres from classic to pop. Actually plays in a band on an Italian comedian's TV show.

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