One of my favorite daily rituals when I am in Italy is meeting friends at a cafe for an aperitivo, a drink before dinner. An aperitivo can be any sort of beverage, but the best kind are made with Italian spirits. While I often enjoy a Campari and Soda or an Aperol Spritz, I got to sample some creative combinations I had never tried before at a recent tasting at Il Gattopardo Restaurant.
We were greeted with a variety of aperitivi.
I started with the Negroni Lucano made from Lucano Amaro and Vermouth
Gianfranco Sorrentino, managing partner of Il Gattopardo Group and President of the Gruppo Italiano, introduced us to Antonino Laspina, Direttore ICE (Italian Trade Commission) New York Coordinatore Rete USA, who organized the event.
Daniela Porro of ICE pointed out some of the many Italian Spirits
There were a number of small bites to go with the Aperitivo:
One of my all-time favorites at Il Gattopardo, the arancini, rice balls flavored with veal and mushrooms.
Then cucumber slices topped with a sea bass tartar.
Then crisp polenta squares with whipped salt cod
Fresh mozzarella and tomato bites
Toast with burrata cheese and truffles
While I enjoy starting with an aperitivo, after a meal, I often have a digestivo (digestive aid in Italian). Typical digestivi include Grappa, Vodka and Vermouth; fruit based liqueurs such as Limoncello, Mitro and Maraschino; herb and spice based liqueurs such as Amaro, Rosolio and Sambuca; Nut based Liqueurs including Amaretto and Nocino, and various other liqueurs such as coffee flavored or egg based liquori all’uovo. There are many more in each category and they can be sipped straight, in mixed drinks or simply on the rocks.