Portrait of the week – Aperitivo

Italian Icons shake up the show!


Fancy an aperitivo? Slake your thirst for the good life with a ready-made cocktail at the Italian Icons Bar, a feature at all three shows! Whether you’re in Cape Town, Jozi or Durban, the three drinks legends Aperol, Campari and Cinzano will be your guide to Italy’s aperitivo alphabet.


Aperol entices with seriously citrus high notes and is crafted from bitter orange, gentian and rhubarb among other ingredients. Campari was born from the mind of Gaspare Campari in 1860, in the Italian city of Novara. It is a key ingredient in some of Italy’s most renowned cocktails and the herby, fruity infusion with its bittersweet spiciness has become famed among drink aficionados across the world. Cinzano is a passionate version of Vermouth – a fortified wine that has been aromatised and flavoured with botanicals – and dates back to eighteenth century Turin.


And while we’re talking essential cocktail ingredients, let’s not forget Frangelico, the legendary hazelnut liqueur with its nutty, vanilla and chocolate notes…


Those who have a passion for these flavoursome, much-loved Italian classics, will already know that there’s nothing like an aperitivo at the end of the working day. In Italy, when ragazze e ragazzi (gals and guys) leave the office, it’s for an aperitivo, literally “an opening”: an arousal of the taste buds in readiness for high-octane flavours.


It’s the pre-dinner unwinding ritual to mark a change of tempo for the day. The moment when you can put your work behind you and socialise with friends and family before sitting down to eat. Aperitivo comes from the Latin word, aperire that also means: “to start”. So see it also as the gateway to new possibilities.


The classic aperitivo will ignite the appetite and prepare the palate for the meal ahead. Italy’s favourite aperitif is the Aperol Spritz, a 3:2:1 mix of 3 parts Prosecco (we suggest L’Ormarins Brut), 2 parts Aperol and 1 part soda. Sweet with a beguiling hint of bitterness and orange, it’s fresh and zesty, bubbly and delicious. Pair it with smoked meat, toasted nuts or olives and you’ll feel transported.


Campari, with its signature scarlet colour and bittersweet floral, herbal intensity, makes a heady and divine Negroni. Fill a tumbler with ice and equal parts of Campari, Cinzano sweet vermouth and Bulldog London Dry Gin and you have a magical concoction to start the night. Served with focaccia sprinkled with coarse salt and caramelised onion or ripe, red tomatoes topped with olive oil, you’ll feel as if you’re sitting at a sidewalk trattoria with a view of the Duomo before you. There’s also the Americano that swaps the gin in the Negroni for a splash of soda water or the Boulevardier that replaces Negroni’s gin with Wild Turkey Bourbon.


So don’t head straight home from work, come taste these Italian Icons with us. It’s a great way to start your experience of the show and the night ahead! In Johannesburg only, we’ll show you how to mix your own cocktails so that you can entertain friends and family at home. Gauteng’s aspiring mixologists can learn how to stir it up la dolce vita-style at a series of cocktail workshops that will take place daily at the Italian Icons Bar.