There's a lot to love about spending happy hour with coworkers, family or friends: good food and drinks, good vibes, good company and, with summer in full force, sunny patios. Since we've all become so used to spending time at home, you might be missing this part of your social life. With restrictions lifting across Canada, now is the perfect chance to embrace happy hour like the Italians do.
Instead of a standard happy hour, why not host an aperitivo hour? This wonderful tradition really takes the Italian "art of slowing down" seriously, and prioritizes enjoying time with family and friends.
If you're ready to wind down after work, relax into your surroundings, and take a deep breath after a busy day then you'll likely love this Italian tradition. While it's true that you can probably find some version of aperitivo hour at a local bar, why not make it more personal by hosting your very own?
Read on for fresh ideas on what to serve, like Ruffino wine and cocktails, how to serve it, extra activities to engage your guests, and the right décor to tie it all together.
Be Intentional In Your Design
When planning your décor, try to envision the design that appeals to you and your guests. When considering your menu, keep in mind that seasonal summer fare along with greenery will complement nicely.
Create an elegant atmosphere by setting the table with stylish serving ware, arranging fabric napkins at each place setting, and decorating with charming details like candles and fresh-cut flowers.
Create An Inviting Atmosphere
They say the kitchen is the heart of the home, which is especially true for open-concept spaces which are naturally laid back and casual. If you're lucky enough to have a wide-open kitchen, make the most of it by laying out drinks and nibbles like bocconcini skewers or fig and prosciutto crostini to encourage aperitivo-hour chit chat.
If your space is a little more intimate, the coffee table and couch with extra chairs or cushions will work just as nicely. If your outdoor space allows, bring out a folding table with a fun tablecloth and décor like succulents, fresh flowers or tea light candles for the ultimate charming vibe.
Inspire With Dishware
What's more exquisite than having the perfect dishware and cutlery to go with your aperitivo hour? Take out the fancy serving plates and have smaller bowls to collect discarded skewers, pistachio shells or olive pits.
The same goes for your drinks menu. Elevate your aperitivo hour with some crystal wine glasses for some timeless elegance, or fill a beautiful pitcher with a fresh and fizzy batch of punch. For Ruffino's Italian Kiss (one part amaretto, half part pomegranate juice topped with Ruffino Prosecco and garnished with an orange twist), you'll want to bring out the flute glasses.
Serve Mouthwatering Nibbles
Socializing while enjoying the finer things in life is what aperitivo hour is all about. While this certainly includes delicious wines, it also means having tasty food to share. When you're planning your menu, consider finger food that you can pick up with one hand and pop into your mouth while catching up with your friends.
If you need some inspiration, here's some food for thought:
- A charcuterie board with baby mozzarella, creamy Taleggio, prosciutto, salami, olives, bruschetta, nuts, fresh grapes, and sun-dried tomatoes
- Dips and spreads, like a pesto, olive tapenade, or nduja served with grissini
- A crisp, fresh salad like juicy, herb tomato bocconcini with balsamic vinaigrette
Don't forget to consider how these pair with the flavours and aromas of the Ruffino drinks you serve.
Keep Your Guests Entertained
Any great gathering has something to drink, something to eat and something to do. To entertain your guests, you can plan casual and engaging activities to do together.
Take a virtual tour with your guests through an exhibit and talk about your thoughts over some vino. Rome's Musei Capitloni can be explored online by using your mouse to navigate the buildings and exhibits. You could tour the halls of Doge's Palace in Venice, or take a virtual stroll through Turin with Google Street View.
Mix Up Your Drink Offerings
With so many types of drinks available these days, it can be tough to decide what to serve at your aperitivo hour. It's always a good call to have some wine to offer your guests, and if you're feeling creative you can offer cocktails too.
For a balmy summer evening, your guests might enjoy a glass of Ruffino's Summer Splash — a refreshing mix of raspberry and lemon sorbet topped off with Ruffino's Prosecco Rosé.
Enjoy The Outdoors
Whether you have a huge deck with patio seating for eight or a cozy high-rise balcony, utilizing your outdoor space can create an inviting and pleasant spot for your guests to relax and enjoy themselves.
Use as many comfy cushions and chairs as space allows. If it's a tight squeeze, leave the door open to encourage mingling both indoors and outdoors.
With these tips you can enjoy a relaxed, light-hearted Italian lifestyle in your very own home. Whether you choose to keep it simple with chips, olives and a light and refreshing white wine, or kick it up a notch with a decked-out charcuterie board, red wine or Italian cocktails, the key to mastering the art of aperitivo hour lies in keeping things casual and elegant.
Above all, no aperitivo hour is complete without good company, delicious food and fantastic wine.