As the Negroni and spritz continue to gain ground in America, can aperitivo — the Italian cocktail hour when those drinks are featured — be far behind? We can only hope. Aperitivo is both the name for a category of drinks (a before-dinner beverage; aperitivo is the Italian word for aperitif, which we borrowed from the French) and the post-work ritual of enjoying those drinks. It's the Italian happy hour.
But as Marisa Huff explains in her new book celebrating the custom, "Aperitivo: The Cocktail Culture of Italy" (Rizzoli, $35), it's more. Aperitivo is the time when you sit in a cafe, alfresco preferably, and catch up with friends while sipping a drink and nibbling on appetizers. It's a scene that embodies la dolce vita (the sweet life).