Without trying to sound too bumptious, surely one of the key pleasures of a holiday is learning to adjust to a different rhythm or routine. Here in Tuscany for a couple of weeks, it is clear that Italians regard alcohol as an accompaniment to food, not as something consumed by itself; the end of the day is not marked by the cocktail hour, but by an aperitivo, to be drunk as a pre-cursor to dinner, to sharpen the appetite, and invariably accompanied by a few small things to eat (salatini in Italian), provided by the bar, much like tapas in Spain. Italians do not seem to drink cocktails in the way we do, so in the light of doing as Romans, when in Rome, this mixed drink recipe reflects their culture.
One of the classic aperitivo drinks is an Aperol spritz: Aperol is similar to Campari, but flavour is much lighter (as is the alcohol content) and more pronounced citrus tone. I prefer it to Campari for these reasons, and here in Tuscany you will find bars offer it (or an equivalent) as the default drink between 5 and 7 pm.
A classic Spritz is composed of two measures of Aperol, three of Prosecco, and a final measure of soda water. According to the company’s own recipe, you should pour the Prosecco first to prevent the Aperol settling at the bottom of the glass, although I haven’t noticed this to be a problem so far; I usually pour the Aperol over ice, add the Prosecco and give the mixture a gentle stir, then top up with the soda. Use lots of ice and garnish with a large slice of orange. It must be enjoyed with plenty of conversation and a little something to nibble on.