The Rise of the Italian Aperitivo

Jul 2, 2021
Bartenders Corner I Cocktails

The alcohol landscape is changing – consumers are drinking less, but they’re drinking higher quality, being experimental with liqueur flavours and some are even favouring lower proof drinks. Where beer and wine once reigned, younger drinkers are looking towards more sophisticated alternatives like cocktails – which is where the Italian aperitivo comes in.

Roughly translated as “opener” or “to open”, the aperitivo is a pre-meal drink specifically meant to whet the appetite and intended to be sipped before dinner. Traditionally, the aperitivo is a bitter drink with a herbier flavour, appealing in particular to drinkers who are interested in more sophisticated drinks that aren’t as sweet as traditional cocktails.

As drinkers increasingly take a fancy to low proof alcohol options, aperitivo-style drinks are quickly gaining popularity, especially with Millennials

Australians Embrace Aperitivo Hour

Australians are embracing the European ritual of meeting up with friends for pre-dinner drinks and nibbles, so aperitivos are becoming increasingly available at bars and other licensed venues. Restaurants are adding simpler cocktails like the aperitivo-style beverage, accompanied by artisanal snacks such as olives and cured meats. Bars and other licensed premises with an eye on this trend also sometimes have aperitivo special offers that include a drink and a selection of snacks for one inclusive price.

Although the aperitivo isn’t simply reserved for pre-dinner drinks. The sassy spritz has become an after-work staple for many, replacing a glass of wine or beer – even making their mark on home bar collections because of how simple aperitivo cocktails are to make. As a result of this, both national retailers and small family-owned bottle shops are also seeing spikes in liqueurs used in aperitivo drinks and therefore are improving sales. The key to the perfect aperitivo is having the right balance between the ingredients used to create it. Let’s have a look at some options you could offer in your bar or venue (and also enjoy at home!). We’ve compiled some of our favourite aperitivo brands below, including the flavour profiles and origin.

SELECT Aperitivo

The essential ingredient of the Original Venetian Spritz.

Flavour Profile

ABV 14%

Aroma: Herbaceous with notes of orange citrus & Vanilla.

Palette: Sweet-sour flavour with notes of citrus and vanilla.

Finish: Smooth & herbaceous with plenty of fruit & vanilla

Select Aperitivo was created back in 1920 in the Castello district of Venice by blending 30 botanicals, including juniper berries and rhubarb roots, that contribute to creating a sophisticated but still approachable bittersweet flavour. The recipe is simple, and the result is a well-balanced, bittersweet tasting Spritz cocktail that’s deliciously refreshing. Select is one of the key brands generating excitement around aperitivo-style drinks, and would be a great addition to your business or home bar.

If you’re in Melbourne, drop in to Galah or The Botanical Hotel in South Yarra to sample a Select Spritz. Or if you’re visiting Port Douglas, the Sea Temple Resort & Spa serves a delicious Select Spritz. Enjoy aperitivo hour watching the sun set over a spectacular tropical vista.

Amaro Montenegro

A traditional amaro distilled in Bologna, Italy. It is made from a secret blend of 40 botanicals, including vanilla, orange peels and eucalyptus.

Flavour Profile

ABV 23%

Colour: Amber-coloured and bright with delicate mahogany transparencies on the outer edges.

Nose: Citrus entry, coming with orange peel, leaves room for notes of lime and mandarin. Marjoram and thyme’s aroma is enriched by spiced and balsamic blends. Complex roasted notes complete an elegant finish.

Taste: Soft and silky mouthfeel with a satisfying balance between sweet and bitter notes.

Created in 1885, Amaro Montenegro is a blend of 40 hand-selected botanicals inspired by the travels of herbalist Stanislao Cobianchi, who fled his native Bologna to avoid becoming a priest. To this day, Amaro Montenegro is created according to the original recipe, which has been carefully handed down from generation to generation. The final and fundamental element of this unique Amaro is called the ‘Premio’. Created by the Master Herbalist, the Premio, meaning ‘prize’ in Italian, is a micro-distillate that creates the unrivalled, delicate complexity of Amaro Montenegro. With such a unique and complex flavour profile, Amaro Montenegro creates the effortless yet incredibly delicious.


An all-natural Italian liqueur made of wild elderflowers from the Italian Alps. Its formula includes mint, lemon and lime infusions, adding a zesty finish to its delightfully floral and herbal character.

Flavour Profile

ABV 20%

Colour: Vibrant light yellow with golden highlights.

Nose: The aromas are delightfully floral with the freshness of elderflowers.

Taste: The taste is clean and zesty due to the addition of lemon peel and mint in the infusion.

Fittingly named after Flora, the Roman goddess of flowering plants, Fiorente offers a delightfully floral nose and a clean and zesty taste. Thanks to lower sugar content than most other elderflower liqueurs, the flavour is not too sweet but perfectly balanced, making it an essential aperitivo ingredient. The Fiorente Spritz is one of its most popular drinks due to its well-balanced flavour.

If you’re in Melbourne, try a Fiorente Spritz at The Inn Hotel and The Apollo Bay Hotel. The Ville Resort & Casino in Townsville serves a spectacular Fiorente Spritz too.

VILLA MASSA Limoncello

This traditional liqueur from the Amalfi Coast is a symbol of local hospitality and the living traditions of Sorrento.

Flavour Profile

ABV 30%

Nose: A range of citrus fragrances evoking different nuances of lemons.

Palate: Sweet, with the unmistakable crisp taste of lemon.

Finish: Long with a dry finish.

Limoncello is a sweet lemon liqueur that originated in the Campania region of Italy.

The recorded history of limoncello begins at the end of the nineteenth century. Lemon liqueur was present on the tables of local families, used as an aperitif or digestive. It is traditionally made using the zest of the lemons grown in the Sorrentine Peninsula, the Amalfi Coast and the Isle of Capri. Each family in the region has its own unique recipe and blending techniques for producing limoncello. The Massa’s traditional family recipe dated back to 1890 and was made using fruits grown on the family lemon grove. Since then, Villa Massa has grown to become the market leader amongst Limoncello producers and has won many awards along the way.

Limoncello doesn’t need to be consumed as a shot, in fact, is delicious as a Spritz and as a result is becoming increasingly popular as a key ingredient in a Spritz.

Airlie Beach Hotel is a great venue for enjoying the Villa Massa Spritz and so is El Grekos Taverna, Palm Cove.

Disaronno Originale

An amber-colour original amaretto with a characteristic taste made in Saronno, Italy.

Flavour Profile

ABV 20%

Nose: The sweet almond aroma on the nose is bright and lively.

Palate: The almond flavour is not super cloying and gives a nutty, toasted back-note on the finish.

Finish: Sweet taste of almond and marzipan.

The world’s number one Italian liqueur and the fastest-growing liqueur brand in Australia* traces its lineage back to the Renaissance. In 1525, Bernardino Luini of the Leonardo Da Vinci School of Art was commissioned to paint a fresco of the Madonna and chose a young, fair-haired innkeeper as his model. The young girl fell deeply in love with Bernardino and was determined to thank him for choosing her as his model. Using the pure essences of 17 herbs and fruits steeped in apricot kernel oil, she created a beautiful amber coloured liqueur. This gift was the first bottle of Disaronno.

Sydneysiders wanting to try delicious Disaronno cocktails can head to Matteo Downtown or Bar Toppi.


The aperitivo is a long-held Italian tradition that has made its way to Aussie shores, and we think it’s pretty clear that the Australian customer is loving it! Fulfilling that desire for lighter, low sugar alternatives, high-quality drinks, the aperitivo is a no-brainer addition to any home bar or venue’s liquor menu and we don’t see this trend disappearing anytime soon.

If you’re responsible for stocking items in your business and are interested in offering any of the brands mentioned above, please speak to one of your local Spirits Platform state manager or local BDM. Spirits Platform is a leading alcohol distributor in Australia, helping connect businesses with alcohol wholesale and delivery partners.

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