An aperitif has strong Mediterranean roots. It's an alcoholic drink that usually accompanies some small foods, an appetizer, before a meal (typically lunch or dinner). It's most often served with olives, cheeses, nuts, pistachios, chips, crackers, tapas, etc.

An apéritif can also refer to a social occasion involving cocktails and a light meal (sometimes a large assortment of appetizers) without requiring, or having, a meal afterwards.