Let’s face it; good nightspots are hard to come by in this sprawling metropolis that is Cairo, especially if you’re picky about where you spend your evenings. Open for a few months now, Aperitivo has been deemed one of the must-go-to places by the so-called glitterati crowd. It is now so high-end; don’t be surprised if you get shunned a little by your peers if you have yet to pay the bar restaurant a visit.

Aperitivo is the newest venue in the La Bodega family and designed as a throwback to the classic Italian eateries in a relaxing, intimate and elegant setting. This reviewer decided to venture into the capital’s ‘in’ spot for two reasons: a good friend’s birthday and being in the mood for a great cocktail.

As with most places, reservations are a must and unless someone’s name is on that list, there’s no way you’re getting past the burly minder guarding the entrance. Décor-wise, Aperitivo is all swinging 20s and 30s with its art deco wall motifs and beautiful crystal ball chandeliers reminiscent of disco lights without the flashing bulbs.

Aperitivo’s two bars are a great idea as that means less crowding, and the service is very good: the waiters make sure your orders are taken and are always there whenever you need to ask for something. They didn’t make a fuss when we requested extra chairs and a larger table; in fact, they went about their business with smiles and minimal fuss.

Though the whole notion of cocktails has been slow to arrive in Cairo, most places are finally picking up on the trend. Unfortunately, this is where Aperitivo loses points. The pina colada was meant to have some rum, coconut and pineapple but was more of a watery, sugary concoction in a Martini glass. The peach daiquiri was no better, but high marks for at least getting the colour of the drink right. Our orders of a margarita and Long Island iced tea were similarly disappointing. The campino, a cocktail of Campari, vermouth and champagne, was too bitter and, for the first time ever; this reviewer’s flute remained half-full.

However, in defence of Aperitivo, it was a Friday night; the place was packed, and perhaps the bartender was having a bad day. Furthermore, in comparison to the majority of the Capital’s night spots, prices here are seriously low – 40LE for a cocktail is a bargain.

Cuisine-wise, the menu looked promising and the feedback from those who tried some of the dishes was glowing – look out for our upcoming review of their food menu.

It’s clear why many have laden Aperitivo with superlatives; it’s really one of the top spots in town. Visually pleasing to the eye, it may be best if you decide against ordering the cocktails and stick to the wine, classic spirits and soft drinks instead. Even though the ventilation is seriously poor, especially for non-smokers, it’s still worth the visit.