This is Aperitivo!
Welcome to Aperitivo!, the soon-to-be-launched newsletter dedicated the drinks we have before lunch or dinner and the culture built around the recipes and products that have shaped those moments.
My name is François Monti. I’m the author, among others, of El gran libro del vermut (‘the Big Book of Vermouth’ —title not my choice, but at least it’s pretty clear about the content). I’ve dedicated quite a few years to investigating the history of aperitivo culture —putting my liver at risk in the process— and Aperitivo! is my attempt to put all this knowledge out there.
Aperitivo! will generally be updated Sunday around noon, Central European Time —that’s when people in Madrid, where I live, get out of their houses and into all sorts of bars for a glass of vermouth, sherry or, unfortunately, beer— and all pieces will explore different aspects of the apéritif. We’ll discuss quinquinas and vermouths; we’ll highlight forgotten recipes and modern stalwarts; we’ll taste the best and —that’s an occupational hazard— the worst of the current apéritif scene. We’ll mostly skew French, Italian and Spanish but won’t forget other countries, including the US.
A lot of ink has been spilled recently on vermouth, aperitif drinks, amaro, etc. There have been books, some good, some bad. But even the good stuff focuses on how people drink today and pepper the narrative with odd updates to make the content more palatable to a non European public. On Aperitivo! you won’t find a Lillet-based twist of a Collins or any other recipe dreamt up for a lifestyle book by a sympathetic mixologist. Twenty years ago, American bartenders set out to explore the history of their craft. I want to do the same for aperitivo. The idea is to highlight how current aperitif culture took root, how the products we take for granted today were first received and drunk. I’m more interested in discussing how whisky became the French bourgeois aperitif in the 60s than pretending that Suze is now a cool drink (sadly, it’s not).
Aperitivo!’s first article will be a brief history of vermouth. The following weeks will see, among other things, a text on the Swedish origins of Fernet, an exploration of how the Picon Grenadine —a French drink— became the Picon Punch —a Basque-American cocktail—, a reflexion of the current state of aromatized wines and, obviously, a few recipes for you to drink along.
Subscription to Aperitivo! is currently free but paid subscriptions will be offered as soon as we actually launch. This is a tough time for writers all over and I deeply value your support.
Oh, one last thing before I leave: PARDON MY ENGLISH. Although I do write professionally in English, I haven’t lived in an English-speaking country in over twenty years and I do make mistakes. Plenty of them. Please be kind.
François Monti is a Belgian drinker who writes. He is the author of three books, including El Gran Libro del Vermut and 101 Cocktails to Try Before You Die. He is usually found near his home in Madrid, drinking vermouth on tap or, on rare rainy days, looking for cocktails in movies. Since 2020, he is the World’s 50 Best Bars Academy Chair for Spain and Portugal. He is also the author of the Spanish-language and cocktail focused newsletter Jaibol.Sign up now so you don’t miss the first issue.
In the meantime, tell your friends!