Continuing in the The Guide to Italian Aperitivo, today I’m talking about How to Host An Aperitivo Italiano at Home:
- What is Aperitivo Italiano in Italy
- Ordering an Aperitivo Drink in Italy
- How to Host An Italian Aperitivo at Home
- Where to go to Aperitivo in Milan
You don’t need to be in Italy to enjoy an aperitivo, though. You can host your own Aperitivo Italiano at home with friends!
Part 2 of The Guide to Italian Aperitivo and Drinks in Italy – How to Host An Italian Aperitivo at Home:
- Setting the Aperitivo Mood with Music
- Planning Your Aperitivo Italiano at Home Menu
- Warm and Cool Weather Aperitivo Menus
- Anytime Menu Items
Can’t come to Italy? Host your own aperitivo at home. I wrote about my summer aperitivo I hosted at home and having an aperitivo at home is easier than you think and lots of fun. It can also be a great potluck event, but is easy enough to do on your own. If you are doing a potluck, remind everyone that the food brought should be light in your stomach and easy to eat if standing.
Setting the Aperitivo Mood with Music
For me the essential part of aperitivo is mood music. Turn your house into a cool lounge bar with the right CDs to set the mood!
You don’t need to listen to Italian music to feel like you’re having aperitivo in Italy. Every bar in Italy has their own preferences but the important part is to choose music that encourages conversation and doesn’t interfere with it. If you’re interested in trying some Italian music, you can always my Italian Music recommendations for a good starting point.
Here’s a quick list that I would recommend for any aperitivo at home:
- The Verve Remixed Box Set (or Disc 1 or Disc 2, separately)
- Thievery Corporation’s The Richest Man in Babylon or The Cosmic Game
- Zero 7′s Simple Things
- Tosca’s Delhi9 or Suzuki
- Brazilian Girls or BG’s Talk to the Bomb
- Buddha Bar CDs (the earlier ones are better) or Nirvana Lounge by the same creator
Planning Your Aperitivo at Home Menu
Aperitivo is a great excuse to break out all the fun serving plates and drink glasses you’ve been hoarding. Mix, match, be creative! I totally support disposable paper plates if you’re expecting a big crowd, but make sure they are sturdy enough to be loaded with all the fabulous food you’re going to serve!
Aperitif recipes for all the drinks I mentioned in The Guide to Italian Aperitivo and Drinks in Italy are available the International Bartender’s Association’s page on Pre-Dinner Cocktails.
You will want to have a nice selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks on-hand for your guests and should provide a variety of the following:
- Wine (encourage your guests to bring you something new)
- Sweet wine like Asti Spumante, Brachetto or Fragolino
- Martini Vermouth
- Soda Water
- Coca Cola and other Soft Drinks
- Pineapple and Orange Juice
- Lemon and Orange slices
Your Aperitivo Italiano Menu: the Food
Aperitivo is the only time I’ve ever seen Italians mix so many different foods together on one plate! In my opinion it’s more important to have many (smaller) dishes that are varied, even if each guest only gets a little taste. This way you’re sure to make something everyone likes and it will leave them wanting more – in the form of dinner later!
Here are some items that require very little planning or preparation and are great year-round.
- Italian green and black Olives
- Potato chips
- Caprese salad with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella
- Italian sandwich meats (salami, prosciutto, mortadella, bresaola)
- Italian cheese (parmigiano, grana padano, provolone, ricotta, taleggio)
- Grilled vegetables like eggplant and zucchini
Here is some visual inspiration from my own archives, and then my fellow bloggers are going to supply you with some delicious aperitivo recipes for your aperitivo at home!
Warm Weather: Spring/Summertime Aperitivo Menus
Here are some recipes that are light and use in-season ingredients. With the heat around, you don’t want your aperitivo to send your guests into a food comatose or make them sweat while eating. Keep things fresh, cool and light and avoid your oven as much as possible when preparing.
- Asparagus Pesto with Pasta from Simply Recipes
- Mini Sandwiches with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Marinated Goat’s Cheese from Lucullian Delights
- Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms from Habeas Brulee
- Pancetta-wrapped Figs from Becks & Posh
- Rice Salad with Fresh Herbs, Tuna, Pine Nuts and Olives from Lucullian Delights
- Garbanzo, Tomato, and Cilantro Salad from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Carpaccio di Arance e Olive Verde from Pinch My Salt
- Mixed Bruschetta from Pinch My Salt
- Tabouleth from the Kitchen Pantry
- Greek Salad from the Kitchen Pantry
- Panzanella: The Italian Bread Salad from David Lebovitz
- Crostini con Cannellini Rustici (White Bean Spread) from the Leftover Queen
Fall-Wintertime Aperitivo Menu Items
In cold weather, you want to offer items that are going to fill up your guests and “stick to their ribs.” Offer hot pastas, steamy risotto, and polenta to warm up your chilled guests.
- Mediterranean Eggplant and Barley Salad from Smitten Kitchen
- Polenta dumplings stuffed with cheese from The Passionate Cook
- Cauliflower Risotto with Spicy Pangrattato from The Traveler’s Lunchbox
- Pan-Grilled Polenta with Blood Orange and Basil Relish from Cook and Eat
- Lasagna with Mozzarella, Cherry Tomatoes and Pesto from Lucullian Delights
- Autumnal Risotto by Becks & Posh
- Leek Triangles filled with Carrot, Fennel, Taleggio Cheese and Walnuts from Lucullian Delights
- Baked Polenta Fries from 101 Cookbooks
- Baked Artichoke Dip from 101 Cookbooks
- Butternut Squash Risotto with Rosemary, Walnuts, and Blue Cheese from Food Blogga
- Eggplant croquette / balls from Bleeding Espresso
- Pizza Rustica from Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy
Anytime Menu Items
These are good additions to an aperitivo menu anytime!
- Pear and Gorgonzola Flatbread with Baby Arugula and Shaved Parmesan from Steamy Kitchen
- Red Quinoa Salad with Bell Peppers and Pine Nuts from Chocolate & Zucchini
- Braised Red Baby Onions from Delicious Days
- Aubergine Rolls with Mozzarella from Lucullian Delights
- Caramelized Vegetable Tart from What’s For Lunch Honey
- Red Pesto from The Traveler’s Lunchbox
- Frittata with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Pecorino from Lucullian Delights
- Chicken Liver Crostini from Becks & Posh
- Crostini with Pears, Pine Nuts, Ginger and Gorgonzola from Lucullian Delights
- Olive Crostini from Simply Recipes
- Italian Asparagus, Mushroom, and Parmesan Frittata from Food Blogga
- Roasted peppers with garlic & olive oil from Bleeding Espresso
- Feta and Tomato Focaccia from Baking Bites
- Roasted Pepper, Olive, and Brie Bruschetta from Food Blogga
While hummus is not Italian or traditionally found at aperitivo, I’ve made it for Italians from Tuscany to Lombardy to Rome and it’s always been a hit. I think it’s an excellent addition to your feast and versatile in hot or cool weather.
- Whipped Chickpea Hummus from 101 Cookbooks
- Hummus from Simply Recipes
- Slow Roasted Tomato Hummus Recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- White Bean Hummus from Baking Bites
- Mediterranean Olive Hummus from Pinch My Salt
Next: Coming to Milan, the Aperitivo Capital of Italy? I’ll give you some suggestions!