Drinking cocktails and enjoying small plates of snacks is one Italian ritual we can definitely get on board with. Here’s our pick of the best London hotspots for indulging in after-work aperitivo…
As the world’s first ever mozzarella bar, you know to expect good things from this traditional Italian eatery. Aperitivo is big at Obicà, running every day from 5pm – 7pm, serving cocktails and wines with a complimentary taglierino, with Prosciutto crudo di Parma DOP, Casatica di Bufala Cheese, salame Felino IGP, grilled artichokes, olives, nduja di Spilinga & stracciatella di burrata bruschetta, heirloom tomatoes & olives bruschetta.
Locations in Canary Wharf, Poland Street and St Paul’s
The Hive of Vyner Street
This Bethnal Green natural wine bar offers an entirely vegetarian aperitivo menu to accompany its selection of natural, northern Italian wines. Italian treats come in the form of artichoke hearts, almonds, cheese boards, and farinata, an unleavened pancake made with chickpea flour – and if you order wine by the bottle, you’ll be treated to complimentary olives, nuts and crisps.
286-290 Cambridge Heath Road, Bethnal Green E2 9DA
There’s no better place to celebrate ’50s Italian culture than at Bar Termini’s sleek, pocket-sized Soho den. Pull up a pew at the bar and work your way through Tony Conigliaro's cocktail list. There are three Negronis for aperitivo hour – the rose-infused rosato; the punchy peppercorn superiore; and the classic, straight up. Tuck into mini ham and cheese paninis, prosciutto crudo, burrata and beef carpaccio, or sober up with a strong, aromatic Italian coffee.
7 Old Compton St, Soho W1D 5JE
This upmarket trattoria serves up a killer list of seven Negronis, from purist classics to rye whiskey twists. There's a great wine selection, too, and a glorious menu from former Arbutus man Patrick Leano. The smoky grilled octopus is a particular highlight.
Barbican Centre, Silk Street, The City EC2Y 8DS
Promising a heavy dose of Italian glamour, Ritorno has all the ingredients for a night of pure indulgence. Head barman, Paolo Viola, formerly of The Ritz, has put together a wonderfully unique cocktail and food pairing experience, set around a menu of over 40 small sharing plates. Delectable food in plush surroundings? This is how to do aperitivo hour, Chelsea style.
442 King’s Road, Chelsea SW10 OLQ
With a vast menu of delicious Venetian classics, you’ll be spoilt for choice at Polpo – think smoked duck, fennel and orange salad and fresh parpadelle rabbit and pancetta ragu. Plus, if you head to the Shaftesbury Avenue branch, you can take advantage of their daily Aperitivo Time. Ignore the main entrance on Shaftesbury Avenue and instead walk to West Street where you’ll find a sneaky entrance to their Ape & Bird bar. Aperitivo Time runs daily, which means you can bag a drink of your choice with a selection of bar snacks for just £5.
Aperitivo Time: Monday – Sunday, 4pm-6pm; Polpo at Ape & Bird, 142 Shaftesbury Avenue, Seven Dials, but other locations in London
The little sister to Angela Hartnett’s Michelin-starred Murano offers back-to-basics Italian fare, and is one of our favourite spots for aperitivo. Grab a Negroni and tuck into classics on the menu including truffle arancini, salt cod fritters and bruschetta with smoked aubergine, pine nuts and golden raisins.
36 Tavistock Street, Covent Garden WC2E 7PB
A new addition to Belgravia’s dining scene, Il Pampero serves traditional Italian dishes in a luxe setting – think old-school Italian glamour paired with rustic plates of tagliolini cacio pepe (homemade tagliolini with a creamy sheep cheese and black pepper sauce); gnocchi di zucca con Taleggio e tartufo nero (pumpkin gnocchi with Taleggio cheese and black truffle); and casseruola di cinghiale conrape glassate al miele (marinated wild boar casserole with honey root). Pull up a pew at the bar and embrace the Italian tradition in style.
20 Chesham Place, Belgravia SW1X 8HQ
From Negronis to Spanish finos, Exmouth Market’s Morito – Moro’s cool little sister – offers a great range of aperitivos to serve alongside moreish plates of seasonal Spanish tapas. The food is a delight, and the atmosphere buzzing – tuck into tapas, classic cocktails including port tonic (white port, tonic and lemon); a range of flavoursome vermouths; and a superlative selection of sherry.
32 Exmouth Market, Islington EC1R 4QE
Putting their own twist on Italian aperitivo, Stoke Newington’s latest neighbourhood gem offers small plates of fresh, seasonal Italian fare alongside a selection of punchy cocktails. Choose from Peargroni: hand-infused pear rum with Contratto vermouth, Campari and ginger juice; Marry Rose: fresh orange juice with Contratto vermouth, Campari, gin, orange Angostura bitters and smoked rosemary; and Sweet Basil: hand-infused basil gin with Belsazar vermouth and Campari.
110 Stoke Newington High Street, Stoke Newington N16 7NY