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

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

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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.