An aperitivo is often described as being similar to the American happy hour, but in reality, it’s much more than that. An aperitivo is a pre-meal drink specifically meant to whet your appetite.
This happy hour have been invented (or effectively marketed) by the distiller Antonio Benedetto Carpano. He claimed that his special combination of fortified white wine and various herbs and spices stimulated the appetite and was more suitable for ladies to drink than red wine.
It thus became one of the first popular aperitivo drinks.
Today, the simple drink has evolved and spread south to encompass those glorious couple of hours all over Italy – generally between 7pm and 9 pm – when Italians meet to relax over a glass of wine or a light cocktail and finger foods.