Hi! I’m Karyn, an American and 14 year expat in Amsterdam. My dear friend Stephi asked me to help her plan a social aperitivo event for expats in Amsterdam. While discussing the details, I wondered if most expats (besides Italians of course) actually know what an aperitivo is. I’ve been lucky enough to travel throughout Italy while living abroad…to experience it myself. But for those who have not yet had the chance (and you must!), here’s a primer on what an aperitivo is.
The word aperitivo literally comes from the Latin verb aperire, which means ‘to open.’ And the aperitivo is meant to do the very same thing…to open up the appetite prior to eating. In the broader sense, to ‘go get an aperitivo’ is the post-work ritual of grabbing a drink and few bites to eat prior to dinner.
Originally from Milano and more popular in the North of Italy, the aperitivo can now be found in bars throughout the country. From around 7-9pm (about the same time that the typical Dutch family is finishing their dinner and clearing the dishes!), many Italians are just beginning their evenings with an aperitivo.
If this all sounds a little like the US ‘Happy Hour,’ you’d be right…sort of. While happy hour is usually about getting great deals on small plates of food and drink, often enough to take the place of dinner, the aperitivo is a distinctly Italian affair that has more to do with relaxing and socializing in preparation for dinner.
So what exactly can you find at an aperitivo? Although traditional cocktails, a glass of wine, or a sparkling variety are perfectly acceptable, the classic drinks for Italians usually include one of Italy’s bitter alcohols, like Campari or Aperol. Popular choices include the Negroni (gin, vermouth and Campari with orange peel), the Americano (soda, vermouth and Campari), and my personal favorite (and Stephi’s), the Spritz…a delicious combination you’ll have to wait to discover at the upcoming event.
And, as if a delicious drink wasn’t enough, the fabulous bonus of an aperitivo is the buffet of food that the bar sets out to compliment the drinks. Sometimes free or with a small supplement, the selection of food varies widely depending on the region and the bar. At its most basic, you’ll receive potato chips and olives, but more often than not, you can also expect plates of bruschetta, focaccia, meats and cheeses, fresh pizza and other savory treats.
Seriously….cocktails, complimentary Italian food and good company…what could be better? And now, you don’t even have to leave Amsterdam to have the experience. If you are intrigued and want to know more, go to ‘Social Aperitivo Event’ or send an email to Stephi at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign in for the aperitivo of Sunday 24 MaY.
Hope to see at the event on Sunday!!