Aperitivo is a much loved northern Italian tradition which we’ve long hoped would take off in Manchester, mostly because it means getting free nibbles at cocktail hour. Never a bad thing in our books.
Italian aperitivo is a world away from your typical British happy hour. There’s no rush to try and drink, say, four espresso martinis in an hour just because they’re two for one. In fact, if this is your attitude, you’re doing aperitivo wrong. It’s cocktail hour, but not as we know it.
Some bars will bring a small, complimentary dish or two to your table to enjoy over a drink. Others will cover a table or bar with a spread for customers to help themselves to. Either way, an emphasis on food sets Italian happy hour apart from its English and American counterparts.
Keen to bring the pleasures of Italian aperitivo to rainy old Manchester, Mamucium has launched its own version. The food here may not be free but the dishes are a far cry from the crisps, nuts and olives you might expect fo find at a typical Milanese cafe.
Think huge sharing platters (£9.50 each) piled high with creamy, marinated cubes of feta, bitter fronds of friarelli, and plump giganti and nocellara olives.
A hearty splodge of homemade houmous nestles up to slices of sourdough and focaccia almost as thick as a doorstop – all the more surface ratio to soak up the virgin olive oil seeping out from that aforementioned friarelli.
On the antipasto board, more traditional Italian fare reigns supreme. Melt-in-the-mouth slivers of cured prosciutto sit alongside silky mortadella and its bolder cousin, salami. There’s burrata too, more olives, and more of that wonderfully thick yet light foccacia.
But that’s not all. Not by a long shot.
Crispy fried squid drizzled in aioli, sumptuously soft baby chorizo topped with smoky breadcrumbs and charred padron peppers all feature on a list of snacky small plates.
For drinks, we opt for a classic Aperol spritz and a bramble, made with gin, lemon juice, blackberry liqueur and served over crushed ice. Its lingering sweetness carries a hint of sherbet.
Cocktails are followed by house gin and tonics as we pick through the wealth of wonderful food in front of us. But there are plenty more cocktails on offer if you desire including go-to aperitivo favourites like the negroni and bellini.
Mamucium is doing the aperitivo tradition proud with this new offering. Some of it might not be strictly traditional, but a wealth of fresh produce ensures non-traditional options shine just as brightly as their classically Italian counterparts.
Aperitivo at Mamucium is available every day from 4pm-7pm Monday to Friday.