There’s actually a scientific reason why you should be having drinks before dinner – not that you needed any convincing. It’s European custom to get together with friends for drinks before a meal, but not just any drink will do. It turns out that drinks containing bitters actually open up your appetite for dinner.


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A bitter apéritif, which means “to open,” is a drink one has before the meal to make room for food. This Livestrong article sites clinical herbalist David Hoffmann in saying “bitters affect the central nervous system, which signals the gut to release digestive hormones that stimulate appetite.” The article also states that bitters increase liver bile and help the digestive system.

Aperol is an Italian favourite and makes for a perfect apéritif. It’s slightly bitter with an orange flavour that is very refreshing and can be mixed into a variety of drinks with an Aperol Spritz being one of the most common drinks to grab with friends. It’s three parts Prosecco, two parts Aperol and one part soda. A tad bit bitter, but much sweeter than other alcoholic bitters. After Campari, Aperol is the most popular bitter in Italy.


Photo by Jordana Colomby

The party’s not over just yet. There are also digestifs which are for aiding digestion after the meal. Dessert wines and liqueurs are the best way to end a meal and help your body digest the food. Digestifs have higher percentages of alcohol and are sweeter than apéritifs but might be a little harder to drink since they’re typically served neat. Bitters are something your palate might take a while to get used to so start off with a Spritz and work your way up.