In 1796, Italian distiller Antonio Carpano sat down in the summer heat and took the first sip of his latest creation. He just invented a new aperitif. A lighter and sweeter alternative to red wine. He named the recipe vermouth.
For years aperitifs were used before meals to help digestion. The word even comes from the latin word “aperire,” which means, “to open.” But vermouth became an overnight success. It became so popular in Europe that soon a new meaning for the pre-dinner cocktail was born.
Today, the aperitif is an homage to transition. It signals the shift from busy afternoon to relaxed evening. It is a state of intermission—punctuating the space between endings and new starts. The aperitif is the marketing genius behind, “Happy Hour” and the culprit responsible for the phrase, “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.”
But the idea of taking a ritual, such as drinking, to punctuate the day goes beyond ice cubes and orange peels.
I recently found myself speeding towards severe cognitive burnout. Too many projects, too little space. The chapters of my day bled into each other. I felt like one long, run-on sentence that scrambles the mind and torments the page.
I needed transitions—alcoholic or otherwise.