The glorious rituals of Italian cuisine extend well beyond the meal itself, and pre-dinner drinks are a huge part of the equation. On balmy evenings across the country, young and old alike flock to cafes, bars and piazzas to enjoy aperitivo - Italy’s sophisticated take on happy hour.

The idea is to whet your appetite, or literally 'open the stomach', with a drink or two. A simple glass of prosecco will suffice, but in the country's north the classic Aperol Spritz is the drink of choice.

Refreshing and citrusy, the Spritz is perfect for a warm evening and at only 11 per cent alcohol, you could stand to start a little earlier. It's also a great alternative to many summer cocktails, which can be overly sweet.

Aperol, with its distinctive bright orange colour, is similar in taste to Campari. The liqueur's recipe has been a closely guarded secret for nearly one hundred years but notes of bitter orange, rhubarb and herbs make for a complex, grown-up drink.

Aperol Spritz
Makes one

Ingredients
90ml prosecco
60ml Aperol
30ml soda water
Two orange slices

Method
Fill an old fashioned glass or wine glass with ice, add the slices of orange.

Pour in the prosecco and Aperol. Add a dash of soda water to finish, which will ensure the Aperol doesn’t settle in the bottom of the glass.

This article is presented by Aperol.