Shake Up Your Summer Entertaining and Host an Aperitivo Hour

It's the easy, casual way to gather and we've got everything you need right here.

Amaro Spritz and bowl of olives
Photo: Nico Schinco

Refreshing drinks and tasty bites on a golden summer evening? Yes please. The French call it an apéro, the Italians an aperitivo. We call mixing a drink designed to open your palate and serving your guests some quick-to-put-together snacks a smart way to entertain with a minimum of prep and maximum enjoyment. Inspired by the European tradition of aperitivo hour, we've created three really quick recipes—a light-on-the-booze cocktail, crunchy rustic toasts, and a creamy spread. Just add some store-bought toppings—we've got suggestions for those too—and say, "Salute!"

Amaro Spritz

Our streamlined take on the ever-popular spritz calls for just three ingredients; an amaro such as Campari or Aperol, quality tonic water (We like Q Spectacular Tonic Water), and lemon, both a touch of lemon juice and a slice of lemon for serving. If you want to get fancy, use half Campari and half Aperol.

Olive-Oil-Fried Toasts
Nico Schinco

Olive-Oil Toasts

Italians love fried snacks like arancini with their aperitivo. These olive-oil toasts are a lighter take and a lighter lift to make. They make a crunchy landing pad for any toppings you have stowed away.

Blue-Cheese Spread
Nico Schinco

Blue-Cheese Spread

A no-cook, two-ingredient party favorite, you'll be making this Blue-Cheese Spread on the regular. Simply process cream cheese, then add a creamy blue cheese when it's smooth. Process again and add a touch of water if it's too thick to spread, season with salt and pepper, and it's ready for aperitivo hour.

Veg Out

Trimmed raw green beans and sliced endive bring bright crunch to the spread. To amplify their flavor, arrange them on a platter and top with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.

5 Store-Bought Ways to Round Out Your Aperitivo Hour

Our former senior food editor Lauryn Tyrell, who developed these recipes, likes to serve spritzes with a mix of rich, briny accoutrements. These power players hold up well in the fridge, so you can have them on hand to transport yourself to a sun-dappled Italian square anytime.

1. Hard cheese, such as Manchego or Gouda. We love Midnight Moon Goat Gouda.

2. Thinly sliced Vidalia or Maui onions: They're in season, so they taste mild and sweet this time of year, not sharp.

3. Sliced salami and serrano ham or prosciutto: Offer all three for a larger group, or just one for a small gathering.

4. Sun-dried tomatoes in oil: They're satisfyingly chewy and intensely tangy.

5. Olives: They provide pops of salty goodness. Or swap in cornichons, capers, or giardiniera (Italian pickled vegetables).

Recipes by Lauryn Tyrell Food Styling by Rebecca Jurkevich; Prop Styling by Suzie Myers

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