If you've been to Italy, you've no doubt seen folks sitting on the piazza having a cocktail before dinner. I can almost guarantee you that cocktail isn't a scotch on the rocks or a martini. Italy is the land of the aperitivo, or aperitif—a pre-dinner cocktail that's usually light on alcohol and refreshing. The aperitivo is meant to stimulate the appetite but not weigh down the palate, or get you too smashed. How civilized!
My favorite aperitivo is an Aperol Spritz, a combination of sparkling wine with a splash of Aperol (a bitter liquer) and club soda, usually garnished with an orange.