Rejoice, for the aperitivo has made it safely to Britain’s shores. There are few drinks with such iconic style as the aperitivo, marked as distinct for its use of Italian bitter liqueurs, and often mixed with soda and Prosecco, making it less boozy than the traditional cocktail. You’ve probably enjoyed one without even realising you were dipping your toe into this unique Italian cultural activity.
L’hora del aperitivo is the time where we in Blighty flock to the pub the moment we’re released from the office. In Italy, where café culture is indistinguishable from their wine and cocktail culture, they flood the piazzas and cafés, sipping on Aperol Spritzes and enjoying complimentary nibbles. It’s all meant to prepare your palates for the evening meal and socialise with friends over light drinks and snacks.
London has finally embraced, if not the relaxation, then at least this bitter yet light style of cocktail – think Aperol Spritz, Sgroppinos, Negroni Sbagliatos and Americanos. This trend has been on the increase for the past five years and really took hold this summer, culminating at the end of August when more than 250 of the city’s best bars submitted their cocktail serves for London Cocktail Week, and 20% of the recipes where true aperitivo-style cocktails.
Here are 10 to look out for during the week – remember you’ll need your LCW Festival Pass to access these for just £5 per drink.
1. No 20
Portobello Road gin, sweet vermouth, Maraschino liqueur and orange bitters, at Bar Américain
2. Olive Oil Gin Fizz
Gin, homemade verbena syrup, fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and topped with Prosecco, at Cartizze Bar
3. WC2 Negroni
Beefeater gin, Amaro Montenegro and Martini bianco vermouth, at Bedford and Strand
4. La Dolce Vita
Bombay Sapphire gin, Campari, limoncello, passion fruit puree and fresh grapefruit juice, at Radio Rooftop
5. Clockwork Orange
Gin, orange wine, Cocchi di Torino vermouth, Campari, pear eau de vie and elderflower, at Victory Mansion
6. Bouret Negroni
Calvados, Amer Picon and La Quintinye rouge vermouth, at Riding House Café
Solerno blood orange liqueur, bitter lemon vodka, fresh lime, cranberry and topped with soda water, at Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings
8. Stellare Negroni
Gin, Cocchi di Torino vermouth, Bruto Americano and a bitter foam, at Worship Street Whistling Shop
9. National Discourse
Homemade parsnip-infused gin, Aperol, fresh mint and topped with Prosecco, at Gillray’s Steakhouse & Bar
10. Lemon Twist
Staibano lemon liqueur, Malbec wine, apple liqueur and a dash of rose water syrup, at Paternoster Chop House
London Cocktail Week runs from 3-9 October. More than 200 bars in the capital are involved, offering discounted serves, special events and masterclasses. If you want to experience it for yourself, get yourself a festival pass by clicking here, then let the fun begin!