How to Pair Pizza and Apéritifs
In case you haven’t noticed, low- and no-alcohol cocktails are growing in popularity. Whether it’s fallout from the heavy drinking days of the early pandemic or the culmination of millennials leaning toward a “cleaner” lifestyle, cocktails have been trending less boozy. That’s meant a resurgence in the apéritif, the lowest ABV of drinks and a ritualistic way of drinking that’s a far cry from pack-a-punch martinis and late nights of heavy drinking.
As you likely know, an apéritif is a drink designed to begin an evening. The word comes from the Latin aperire or “to open.” Often crafted from herbaceous liquors, like Italian amari, or fortified wines, like vermouth, apéritifs live in the land of light, easy-drinking refreshments. That makes them delicious when paired with food that’s equally fun and easy.
Enter: the pizza and apéritif pairing. If you love spritzes but aren’t sure what to eat with them, here are some easy rules to help you plan your next pizza party menu.
Pairings for tomato-forward pizzas: Red pies, Margheritas, and other tomato-forward pizzas need something with the depth of flavour to counteract their acidity. An apéritif like that will provide some warmth and sweetness, along with peppery notes that are perfectly at home alongside a flame-licked tomato sauce. Try an AVPN Standard Pizza Marinara with Meletti Amaro’s caramel flavors or a non-alcoholic orange Italian spritz from Lyre.
Pairings for rich, fatty toppings: Are you covering your pizza in cured meats or rich cheeses? Try an apéritif with enough oomph and bitterness to balance the fat in your toppings. Something like a bitter orange liqueur, with bitterness alongside sweetness, is your best bet. Pair a pepperoni pizza drizzled with chipotle-infused honey with an Aperol spritz or a Campari and soda.
Pairings for bold flavours: Strongly flavoured and spicy toppings need a drink that will stand up to them. Apéritifs with a mellow sweetness alongside a bit of warm spice will balance punchy, spicy flavors like you’d find in salami, ‘nduja or hot sauce. Make our Sweet Corn and ‘Nduja Pizza and pour yourself an Amaro Nonino-forward drink, or Dolin Rouge vermouth on the rocks with a twist of lemon.
Pairings for white pizzas: A white pizza, like our riff on the Pizza Rosa from the famed Pizzeria Bianco in Arizona, US, doesn’t have the acidity of a tomato sauce, so it can complement the gentler fruit of a grapefruit-forward spirit. Pair a pistachio and red onion Pizza Rosa with Lillet Rosé on the rocks for a delicious dinner. Or, go a little lighter on the citrus and heavier on the herbal flavours with an Averna spritz laced with grapefruit bitters. Spruce up either with a sprig of fresh rosemary to echo that on the pizza.
- Pairings for vegetables: Leafy vegetable flavours — think salad-topped or veggie-laden pizzas — do well with a tart counterpoint. Citrus-based drinks, like gimlets and French 75s, or a lime-accented drink like a grapefruit Paloma work well in this context. Try any of these with Dan Richer’s arugula-topped Panna Pizza.