Why aren't you drinking aperitif cocktails?

We asked One Midtown Kitchen’s beverage director and aperitif fan-girl, Melissa Davis, to explain these palate-pleasers and why you should be drinking them.

“In countries like France, Italy and Spain, people drink aperitifs like wine. They’re wine- or liqueur-based and sometimes contain less bitter amari. They’re light, refreshing and have about as much alcohol content as a glass of wine or beer,” Davis said.

Look for cocktails or spritzes with Pineau des Chantres and fino sherry (fortified wines,) limoncello (lemon liqueur,) Lillet and Cocchi rosa (aromatized wines,) vermouth or amaro topped with soda or sparkling wine . Davis suggested trying her go-to aperitif, the Americano . No, not coffee. This three-ingredient cocktail is comprised of soda water, Campari and sweet vermouth with an orange twist. It’s slightly bittersweet, incredibly refreshing and won’t fill you up before a meal.

Davis always has at least one aperitif cocktail on the menu at One Midtown Kitchen and carries most of the above liqueurs, wines and vermouths on the back bar.

“We don’t have the cafe culture in America which make these particular cocktails so popular in Europe, but that doesn't mean you can’t order them at lunch or in place of a glass of wine before dinner,” Davis said of why aperitifs haven’t taken hold in the United States. “Don’t be afraid of the word 'cocktail' beside a vermouth-based drink, for instance. Aperitifs are low-alcohol and have an almost waking quality to them, making them perfect for sipping before a meal or day-drinking.”

Our go-to aperitif? Switching out gin for dry sherry to riff on the G&T. Add a little simple syrup, ice, tonic water and a couple of dashes of orange bitters, and we’re good to go.

Next time you’re out and aren’t feeling like a boozy cocktail or a glass of wine, try one of these aperitif cocktails instead.

The Limoncello Spritz at The General Muir in Emory Village is a fresh, waking cocktail for any time of day. Photo credit: Beth McKibben

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