Mike Ben­nie cel­e­brates the re­born art of the aper­i­tivo hour (or two!) with sug­ges­tions for your drink­ing plea­sure.

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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

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