Mike Bennie celebrates the reborn art of the aperitivo hour (or two!) with suggestions for your drinking pleasure.
Mike Bennie celebrates aperitivo hour.
EARLIER THIS YEAR, Sydney restaurateur Maurice Terzini kicked off ‘Aperitivo Hour’ at his spruced-up Dolphin Hotel in Surry Hills. Alongside Icebergs colleagues Monty Koludrovic and James Hird, he invited some of Australia’s hottest talent, including the likes of Paul Carmichael (Momofuku Seiobo), Clayton Wells (Automata) and the Pinbone collective, to host a rip-roaring ‘happy hour’ between 5pm and 7pm.
The powerful line-up has been instrumental in a reawakening of the traditional Italian aperitivo concept. “It’s a cultural identity thing,” says Terzini, “a debrief of the day.” He riffs: “A spritz, an
ombra, vermouth, olives, lots of olives, anything that doesn’t require too much effort, anchovies, salumi, a chip or two.”
For former MasterChef finalist André Ursini, of André’s Cucina & Polenta Bar in Adelaide, “it’s the prelude to eating dinner”, telling us what we want to hear. “Aperitivo also relies on bitter-style drinks being served to stimulate digestive juices,” he adds. “We must embrace the bitter and understand why it exists as a culinary weapon in Italian culture.”
Sommelier-turned-fine-wine importer Giorgio de Maria has the lowdown on his drinks approach to aperitivo time. “I would serve anything amusing and stimulating. Of course some bubbles, though vermouth and soda could be a great fit on a hot day, while orange wine and off-thechain rosés are the drinks for winter.”
De Maria sees a great synergy between Australian and Italian culture, with a hook: “I think Australians get aperitivo, but with no food… go back a few decades to the six o’clock swill, or more recently to happy hour in the party bars. It shows the will of people to relax and have fun before dinner. So I believe Australians will get it, but, remember, food is an essential ingredient of aperitivo success.” Grazie to that! Aperitivo Hour, Sun to Thurs 5pm-7pm, at The Dolphin Hotel, 412 Crown St, Surry Hills; dolphinhotel.com.au/aperitivo-hour