Rosie Schaap enjoys (NYT) aperitifs before dinner:
I’ve had the occasional aperitif by myself, but I think of this as an inherently social drink. The unwieldy word, which always seems one syllable too long, comes from the Latin aperire, “to open.” And that’s what it does: An aperitif puts people at ease and signals that an occasion has begun. It opens the proceedings in a way that’s elegant and faintly formal, but also congenial and serene. …
My first aperitif — and I doubt I’m alone here — was a Campari and soda, to which my reaction was much the same as my initial response to cilantro: I recoiled, and then wanted more. Now, when I have friends over for dinner in the summer, I usually start things off by muddling a basil leaf with a couple hits of citrus bitters in an old-fashioned glass; adding a handful of ice, about a half-ounce of Campari and two ounces of Lillet (blanc or, even better, rosé); and topping it off with club soda. I plonk a thick slice of grapefruit into the drink to be used as a stirrer (and then eaten, if one likes, and one usually does).
Schaap goes on to offer recipes for two aperitif cocktails, called Fort Julep and the Pink Angel.
(Photo by Flickr user gruenelinz)