How to Aperitivo With Brother Wolf - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

How to Aperitivo With Brother Wolf

When Jessica “Rabbit” King and her partner Aaron Thompson fell in love with the sights, smells, and sounds of Italy, it wasn’t long before they decided to bring the spirit of the country’s most storied drinking tradition back to their hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee. Captivated by the communal nature of aperitivo hour, the couple spent almost three years developing a plan and searching for the right space to bring their vision to life. A few months ago, Brother Wolf and Osteria Stella opened with a focus on Milanese cuisine and Italian drinks. “It was a huge journey for us. The whole thing has been serendipitous and a dream realized,” says King.

With 24 aperitivo-style cocktails (including 11 Negroni variations) on the menu, ranging from the classic Negroni to the Oaxacan Negroni, Sbagliato, and a special Faux/Groni made with Seedlip, Brother Wolf celebrates aperitivo hour to the fullest, which King describes as “more of a lifestyle” compared to an American happy hour. “What attracts me to aperitivo hour in Italy is ending your work day and having an active social life in which you put your phone down and spend important time with the people that you love and care about. It’s about that communication and sense of community.”

Want to bring the aperitivo spirit into your own home? Here are King’s best tips.

The Timing “First of all, the hours are very different from our happy hour; aperitivo hour doesn’t really start until around 7 p.m. and usually goes until about 9 p.m.,” King says. “It’s when you’re done with the work day and making a commitment to socializing and enjoying life and the company of others. So you have a cocktail, a snack, and socialize before going to dinner and having a long, beautiful, communal meal that goes way into late evening.”

The Cocktails “The drinks are traditionally low-ABV,” King says. “You’re not pounding shots and chugging beers like you see in the States. You’re making light drinks that aren’t going to get you hammered before dinner—something to open up your palate and prepare you for the meal ahead. That involves lots of dry, bitter flavors. You can do something that’s light and refreshing with bubbles, or something bitter like Select or Campari. The bitterness sets us up for the meal, the good stuff that’s to come after.”

The Snacks “Any café or bar you sit down at in Italy, whether you like it or not, whether you ask for it or not, is going to set salty snacks out in front of you, which, of course, gives you something to munch on,” says King. “It also satiates that initial hunger and makes you want one another drink, so in that way it’s a sales tactic, too. And since this is prior to dinner, you don’t want anything that’s too heavy, so it’s always light bites like salty chips and Castelvetrano olives, and nuts and things.”

The Vibe “The beauty of aperitivo is the ritual of socializing,” King says. “It is foundational to the idea, so no phones! It’s not checking your social media accounts over and over again, because the social aspect of social media is right in front of you. Your friends are there, and you are there to be with them, to check in and see how everyone’s doing and get the gossip. Have those quality moments with your friends. It’s about community, and that is so important.”

Enjoy This Article?

Sign up for our newsletter and get biweekly recipes and articles delivered to your inbox.

Send this to a friend