Happy Hour: our tips for a perfect aperitif

Mild temperatures, light until late in the evening, a desire for light-heartedness and freedom: summer is coming, and with it comes the desire to relax with friends, good music, a great drink and snacks.

So let's inaugurate the warm season with a Happy Hour to be prepared without stress, to rediscover the pleasure of being together. Why not try organising one at home?

Here are a few ideas for setting up a Happy Hour with flair.

Variety, taste and creativity: the best appetisers for a successful Happy Hour

Let's start with the basics: food and drinks. To be at the top, you don't need to overdo it. It is better to focus on quality, practical, fun, varied... and of course good.

Once you have decided on the location and the number of guests, draw up a list of drinks and food to buy, following the seasonality and indulging the tastes of your guests. Plan a menu with a main course to be prepared in advance - a fresh rice, barley or couscous salad will be perfect and appreciated by all - and then unleash your imagination with lots of appetisers.

For the buffet you really are spoilt for choice, but remember to choose dishes that are not only easy to make, but also practical to eat standing up, with a glass in your hand. Finger foods are the ideal solution: small, inviting and full of flavour, they never tire and are a pleasure for the eyes too.

Have fun composing small skewers by combining 2 or 3 ingredients. Some original ideas? Feta and watermelon, anchovies, friggitelli and buffalo mozzarella, artichokes and grilled ham.

Chopping boards are back in vogue, so much so that tutorials for making them so colourful and scenic that they look like palettes are being wasted on social media. Try it yourself. Choose a base (wood, slate, ceramic) and then compose your 'picture' by combining the ingredients in a harmonious way: typical regional cold meats and cheeses, artichokes in oil, dried or dehydrated fruit, olives, onions, cucunci, sun-dried tomatoes are just a few suggestions. Don't forget to serve a good assortment of breads, breadsticks, seed crackers and diced focaccia alongside.

Creams and pates are also a practical and fun, as well as very cool, solution. To make them perfect for happy hour, divide them into small, single-serving glasses or cups and accompany them with fresh vegetable sticks (carrot, fennel, celery, pepper), breadsticks and slices of lightly toasted bread. With the pepper and tunaolive or artichoke cream you can also make tasty sandwiches or cute fingertips in a matter of minutes.

Little time but a great desire to impress with something really tasty? The Ghiotto starter is the right answer: fine porcini mushrooms, tender yellowfin tuna and a special sauce, a secret recipe from Galfrè. The authentic and genuine flavour of Piedmontese tradition is always current and we defy anyone to resist, especially if in finger food version. All you need is a roll of puff pastry and a muffin tin to make some tasty baskets to fill, once cooked, with our appetiser. Want to bet they'll go down a storm?

Raise your glasses: between timeless drinks and new trends

Cocktails and drinks are the real stars of Happy Hour. So if you are thinking of organising one, you should ensure your guests a wide selection, ranging from the great classics to some original and perhaps lesser-known alternatives.

Tradition never tires. Spritz, Americano and Negroni are therefore a must. Plan also some light and not too alcoholic proposals, such as the sophisticated Bellini and Cosmopolitan, or the more popular but always appreciated Sangria, fresh and very easy to prepare at home. Don't forget sparkling wines, aromatic whites and craft beers, which with their versatility go well with classic buffet snacks.

And then, space for non-alcoholic drinks: as well as pleasing the teetotalers, they can also be a pleasant discovery for those who have no problems with alcohol. Mocktails are very trendy, colourful and tasty and - not to be overlooked - allies of the line. Rich in fruit, based on vermouth and non-alcoholic bitters, or tea-based, they open up a whole new range of possibilities for an unusual and decidedly trendy aperitif.

Finally, don't forget to set up a corner of the buffet with everything you need to serve and mix your drinks: glasses and goblets, shakers, ice, tongs and strainer. Cheers!

#Ghiottotips: the essentials for a successful Happy Hour

Now that you have thought about food and drinks for your guests, you are halfway there. Yes, because to make your aperitif really special, good appetisers and a good choice of drinks are essential, but they are not enough. Follow our simple tips to make your evening truly unforgettable.

1. The right atmosphere

Or, as they say, the mood of the evening. Put your guests at ease by choosing the right lighting, soft and not too intense. Provide several lighting points if possible and add a touch of style with a few candles.

Music is also an essential ingredient of any self-respecting Happy Hour: choose a light, relaxing playlist to discreetly accompany chatting with friends. If by the end of the evening the 'temperature' has risen, opt for something more lively and get the dancing started.

2. Green is the new black

If you are one of the lucky ones with an outdoor space, don't think twice: whether it's a garden, a terrace or a veranda, your guests will be thrilled to spend the evening en plein air (weather permitting, of course!).

3. What a style!

Choosing a guideline for the evening can help you a lot with the organisation and will also help to give a coherent and sophisticated style to the whole. From the food and drink proposal, to the tableware, to the furnishing accessories, try to harmonise the various elements following a thread: traditional, innovative, healthy, vintage... you'll be spoilt for choice. If you are particularly creative you can also think of a real themed Happy Hour, set up the arrangements and the menu accordingly and perhaps provide a dress-code for the guests. Fun is guaranteed!

4. Small attentions

Think of a versatile and democratic menu that respects the preferences and needs of each guest. Pay special attention to any intolerances or allergies your guests may have. Vegetarian or vegan options that are both healthy and tasty: mushrooms in oil, tender artichokes or a tempting sweet and sour giardiniera will be the perfect solution and we're sure they'll be a hit with even the most hardened carnivores.

5. Take it easy

Organisation and practicality are the keys to success for a stress-free happy hour. Think of simple proposals that can be prepared in advance, and set up the space according to use: a table for snacks, a corner for wine, cocktails and drinks, a corner with napkins, cutlery, glasses, ice and everything you need to serve your drinks in the best possible way.

Carve out time for yourself before guests arrive: a relaxed and serene host is the best calling card.