Happy National Aperitif Day! 5 Recipes That Make It Perfectly Acceptable To Drink Before Dinner

There are a lot of great European things that have, unfortunately, never caught on in the United States. Like four weeks minimum paid vacation time. Original Cadbury chocolate! And let's not forget, aperitifs. But as May 21 has been named National Aperitif Day, at least someone out there is trying to right this terrible wrong.

Aperitifs are drinks typically served before a meal, ostensibly to stimulate the appetite, but mostly just because it's a great excuse to add another round of drinks to your evening. They're typically low in alcohol and dry, as opposed to digestifs, which are sweet and served at the end of a meal. Aperitifs can be anything from a simple Lillet or Campari on the rocks, to a full-blown cocktail.

Many aperitifs also make perfect summer drinks, since they are light, refreshing, and you can drink just a few without feeling like you are over-indulging. With that in mind, here are a few ideas to get you started. New to the wonderful world of aperitifs? Not a problem. Whip up one of these cocktails, and imagine that you're lounging on a patio overlooking the Mediterranean with a handsome man named Jacques. Or Carlo. Or both. Cheers!

1. Aperol Spritz

The Aperol Spritz is a traditional Italian aperitif (or aperitivo, more accurately) made with Aperol and sparkling wine. What's not to love? Get the full recipe over at The Kitchn.

2. Le Vert Cooler

Claire Needham at Lillet, which helped invent this wonderful holiday, created some delicious cocktails to go with it. Le Vert Cooler is a fresh, herbal drink that's perfect for sipping on a porch in the sun.

What You'll Need:

  • 10 muddled grapes
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 parts Lillet Blanc
  • 1/4 oz St. Germain
  • 1 part sparkling wine

Add the first four ingredients into a mason jar, and lightly muddle thyme and grapes. Fill the jar with ice, and screw on the lid. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Remove the lid, and top with sparkling wine. Add a straw and enjoy!

3. Campari + Orange IPA Cocktail

Maybe hoppy is more your style. In that case, this recipe by A Better Happier St. Sebastian has you covered. Campari and IPA were born to be together.

4. Watermelon-St. Germain Cocktail

Have you tried St. Germain yet? Because you really need to. Who knew that elderflower went so well with, well, everything? Including watermelon. Trust me, it does. You NEED to try this recipe by Love and Lemons.

5. La Coquette

And one more from Claire and Lillet. Do you like strawberry lemonade? Of course you do. And wouldn't it be even better with some booze? Of course it would.

What You'll Need:

  • 4-5 lemon quarters
  • 4-5 strawberry halves
  • ½ part Aperol
  • ¼ part simple syrup
  • 2 parts Lillet Rosé

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, and fill with ice. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds, and pour all of its contents, including ice, into a glass. Enjoy!

Images: The Kitchn; Mark Loader/Lillet (2); A Better Happier St. Sebastian; Love and Lemons