Spirited Traveler: A fashion for the aperitivo in Milan

Tue Jul 3, 2012 7:26am EDT
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By Kara Newman

NEW YORK (Reuters) - In Italy's fashion capital of Milan, the last thing you would want, dear traveler, is to be considered unfashionable.

Luckily, the aperitivo, or "aperitif" is here to save you from that fate. Generally a cocktail with modest alcohol levels meant to stimulate the appetite and refresh the spirit, the aperitivo often includes wine or wine-based vermouth. Bitter-edged liqueurs such as Campari or Aperol are also popular ingredients.

"In Milano we have the aperitivo culture," explains Mauro Mahjoub, who owns Mauro's Negroni Club in Munich but travels frequently to Milan as a brand ambassador for the Campari brand.

"It means the people meet in the bar - and they do." Gratis appetizers or a buffet will often be served at a bar to encourage the cocktails to flow.

If there is an iconic aperitivo, it is the Negroni Sbagliato (the "Wrong Negroni"), says Mahjoub. "We drink it in every bar."

While a "correct" Negroni - another Italian classic - would be made with equal parts Campari, sweet vermouth and gin, the Sbagliato substitutes Prosecco for gin. It's a delightful drink with nothing wrong about it but the name.

Where to enjoy an aperitivo in Milan? Mahjoub recommends that travelers head to the Coin department store for a private elevator ride up to the Globe (www.globeinmilano.it/) to enjoy sweeping city views and the aperitivo buffet.

Meanwhile, the near-hidden Exploit (www.exploitmilano.com/) is where the locals are likely to be found after work enjoying their aperitivi alongside the long wood-and-leather bar.   Continued...