It seems that I was destined to have a love affair with all things Italian from a very young age. Holidays consisted of gorging on fresh pasta and collecting broken seashells in Positano, as a teenager I slyly stole sips of limocello off of the dinner table and by my early twenties I had fallen hook, line and sinker for one of Italy’s most famous exports – Gucci. Oh, and not forgetting my boyfriend is a very suave Italian.
Last year I took a trip to Milan where my mornings were spent drinking cappuccinos (Italians never drink milky coffee post midday) and my evenings spent swilling Aperol spritz and indulging in charcuterie platters paired with tart green and black olives. I had added another Italian love to my ever-growing list – the art of aperitivo.
We all know London is great, but with the lack of sun putting a damper on post-work plans, you can’t guarantee a packet of crisps and a pint will show you a good time. Sure, we have tea, biscuits and crumpets but the Italians have effortless glamour, lip smackingly good light bites and oh course, that enviable dolce vita. Forget ‘thirsty Thursdays’, the swanky Mayfair restaurant Quaglino’s is bringing the age-old Italian apertivo tradition to town.
Expect to be seduced by the sultry sounds of an Italian live band (and maybe by a handsome waiter or two) whilst sipping on a menu of eight exceptional cocktails accompanied by a platter of Italian small bites.
For a quick Italian jaunt without the back-crushing Ryanair bucket seats, opt to enjoy one of the existing Q Aperitivo cocktails, which are each inspired by different regions in Italy – I’d highly recommend the Il Pupo. An intoxicating bittersweet Sicilian blend of oregano infused Belvedere, Mama’s homemade orange marmalade and spice ginger ale.
Cheat on your usual and spice it up with one of three new delights. The classic Aperol Spritz I’m so fond of has been given a refreshing makeover, the Italicus bergamot liqueur gives it a bold, botanical taste whilst the watermelon smooths out the La Serenissima cocktail. The Aqua Vita balances sweet and sour expertly with a Moscata Grappa infused with strawberries, honey and blood-orange. For those seeking the strong stuff, order a Flegrea. A combination of Tanquerary gin, dry vermouth and Maraschino blended with a fragrant chartreuse liqueur. When paired with complimentary charcuterie platters, feta stuffed petters and moorish arancini balls you’ll soon forget you’re still in good ol’ Blighty. That is until you have to collect your brolly at the door…
What: Q Aperitivo at Quaglino’s
Where: Quaglino’s, 16 Bury Street, St Jame’s, London, SW1Y 6AJ
When: Every Thursday from 3rd May
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