Everybody loves going for an “aperitivo”. The Italian ritual, continually evolving, from the historic bars of the “Years of Lead” to the ultra-modern gourmet dishes served in this new era of cocktails, has a two-hundred-year-old history that boasts of its own sort of mythology. It all began in Turin, nightly after the theatre, the broads skirts and vermouth (known there as “vèrmot”), the mix of wine, sugar and aromatic herbs invented in 1786 by pastry chef Benedetto Carpano. This trendsetter, which soon became the official drink of the Royal Court, moved quickly to Milan, the habit becoming even more of a fashion than in Piedmont, especially with new concoctions by Ausano Ramazzotti - creator, in 1815, of the celebrated “amaro” with a whopping 33 herbs - and Gaspare Campari who, in 1860, perfected his recipe for red bitters. Then the “futurists” extended their revolutionary zeal from the canvas to the glass, virtually bringing about a whole new art from. Bananas, dates and pistachios began accompanying the so-called “polibibite” or “poly-drinks” (the term “cocktail” had yet to be coined) in gathering places such as Savini and Camparino. From the legendary “Jamaica” - the caffè made famous by customers like Piero Manzoni and Salvatore Quasimodo - to Bar Basso, the history of the “aperitivo” in Milan headed for a true breakthrough. With Mirko Stocchetto, in 1967, the culture of the drink settled definitively in Milan. And it settled there forever. These years saw the advent of drinks like the “Negroni Sbagliato”, the “Rossini” and the “Perseghetto” accompanied by potato chips and olives. And while the formula of paying for your cocktails but eating for free, started by Vinicio Valdo, threw open the doors of Happy Hour, the 2000s have seen the aperitivo evolve even further while classic drinks like the Americano, the Martini and the Negroni have made a solid comeback.
Samantha De Martin - © 2020 ARTE.it for Bulgari Hotel Milano