No Booze, All Bliss!
Today in the arcane world of drinking there are two rising trends (until covid smashed everything): 1) aperitivo and 2) non-alcoholic spirits.
Aperitif in Belgium until recently didn’t really exist as a thing on its own. Aperitif was just waiting until dinner was ready, it wasn’t really special, just drinking before dining. In Italy however, aperitivo is sacred. It’s a busy, vibrant, festive get together after work and before everybody retreats to dinner. More than once the magic of the aperitivo works so well that some people skip dinner altogether and return home late in the night. Sometimes you don’t even need dinner, because the food that goes with aperitivo can go from just crisps and olives to a dazzling array of different tapas. The drinks itself are mostly quite straightforward, no elaborate cocktails here. Just neat drinks over ice or quick two or three ingredient drinks. Mostly wine, vermouth, amaro, prosecco or a combination of these. Aperitivo in Italy is really beyond comparison to other countries and even in Italy there’s differences depending on which region you’re in. If you’re in Italy and you happen to spot an aperitivo somewhere in an alley or on a little town plaza, try to participate, mingle with the crowd. Try to look Italian! Here’s a few tips: on arrival immediately start an argument with your partner. Gesticulate abundantly. Then suddenly kiss, so vehemently it seems you would devour one another. After five seconds, disconnect, face the crowd, smile and say something like: ‘Buona sera tutti!’ Then, dig in (the food we mean, not your wife)!
Non Alcoholic Spirits
The rise of non-alco drinks is a direct result of zero tolerance traffic laws and people who are more conscious about their drinking. Also, if there’s one faux-pas at aperitivo it’s getting drunk. So slowly, but surely more and more non-alco drinks are appearing on the market. Most of them are crap. Utterly disgusting. They taste like cardboard dipped in spice syrup while sprayed with perfume. And they cost a fortune! Why not just buying a tonic, pour it over ice and add a large zest of lemon. It’s much cheaper and it tastes a thousand times better.
Martini Non Alcoholic
Some non-alcos hit the bell though and Martini Non Alcoholic sounds the whistles too. They have two different kinds: vibrante and florale (red and amber). The first one is a little more robust and herbal, the second one is a little bit sweeter and floral (duh).
They both really taste like vermouth! They are more vermouth than some vermouths pretend to be! Apparently Martini uses the same wines as in their original vermouth and subsequently discards the alcohol from them. The following is then infused for some time with a lot of herbs and spices. The result is very yummy!
Actually, if you add tonic to them in a large glass, filled with ice, it would be very easy to forget that you’re drinking an alcohol free drink! Also, very important, at only 10€ per bottle, the price is right!