Aperitif is a before-dinner drink to stimulate the appetite. The term originates from the Latin word, 'apertitiuvum indicating 'opener.' In France, it is pronounced aperitif, and in Italy, aperitivo.
Aperitif was born in Europe and traveled to the United States later around the beginning of 1900s. There is no definite evidence indicating the origin of aperitif. Some say it goes back to the biblical days of ancient Egyptian era.
By the 16th century people were producing flavoured spirits with herbs and spices for medicinal purposes. In the early days they tasted very bitter so the early producers of aperitif made it more acceptable tastes by diluting ingredients in wine.
When it became popular for non-medicinal consumption, it was served as an appetite stimulator before the meal, which became the social tradition in many parts of Europe.
By the 18th century, Turin, Italy was the major commercial center for vermouth production. During this period drink makers (or maitre licoristes) examined the characteristics of numerous herbs and spices. They also learned how to mix original drinks from these ingredients.
France and Italy became rivals to one another in aperitif production and consumption. Aperitifs became fashionable elements in the social gatherings.
Aperitif brands began incorporating names of such places as Italy, Turin and Milan in their label as they distributed the products from city to city. During the 1840s, Gaspare Campari and the Cinzano family sold their aperitifs throughout Italy. Other aperitif brands available are Cynar, Lillet, Pernod, Angostura, Absinthe, Ouzo, Unicum and Fernet-Branca.
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