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Amaro Spritz and bowl of olives
Credit: Nico Schinco

Refreshing drinks and tasty bites on a golden summer evening? Yes please. The French call it an apéro, the Italians an aperitivo. We call mixing a drink designed to open your palate and serving your guests some quick-to-put-together snacks a smart way to entertain with a minimum of prep and maximum enjoyment. Inspired by the European tradition of aperitivo hour, we've created three really quick recipes—a light-on-the-booze cocktail, crunchy rustic toasts, and a creamy spread. Just add some store-bought toppings—we've got suggestions for those too—and say, "Salute!"

Amaro Spritz

Our streamlined take on the ever-popular spritz calls for just three ingredients; an amaro such as Campari or Aperol, quality tonic water (We like Q Spectacular Tonic Water), and lemon, both a touch of lemon juice and a slice of lemon for serving. If you want to get fancy, use half Campari and half Aperol.

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Olive-Oil-Fried Toasts
Credit: Nico Schinco

Olive-Oil Toasts

Italians love fried snacks like arancini with their aperitivo. These olive-oil toasts are a lighter take and a lighter lift to make. They make a crunchy landing pad for any toppings you have stowed away.

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Blue-Cheese Spread
Credit: Nico Schinco

Blue-Cheese Spread

A no-cook, two-ingredient party favorite, you'll be making this Blue-Cheese Spread on the regular. Simply process cream cheese, then add a creamy blue cheese when it's smooth. Process again and add a touch of water if it's too thick to spread, season with salt and pepper, and it's ready for aperitivo hour.

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Veg Out

Trimmed raw green beans and sliced endive bring bright crunch to the spread. To amplify their flavor, arrange them on a platter and top with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.

5 Store-Bought Ways to Round Out Your Aperitivo Hour

Our former senior food editor Lauryn Tyrell, who developed these recipes, likes to serve spritzes with a mix of rich, briny accoutrements. These power players hold up well in the fridge, so you can have them on hand to transport yourself to a sun-dappled Italian square anytime.

1. Hard cheese, such as Manchego or Gouda. We love Midnight Moon Goat Gouda.

2. Thinly sliced Vidalia or Maui onions: They're in season, so they taste mild and sweet this time of year, not sharp.

3. Sliced salami and serrano ham or prosciutto: Offer all three for a larger group, or just one for a small gathering.

4. Sun-dried tomatoes in oil: They're satisfyingly chewy and intensely tangy.

5. Olives: They provide pops of salty goodness. Or swap in cornichons, capers, or giardiniera (Italian pickled vegetables).

Recipes by Lauryn Tyrell Food Styling by Rebecca Jurkevich; Prop Styling by Suzie Myers

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