If you've ever visited a traditional French or Italian restaurant, chances are you will have come across Aperitifs/Aperitivo & Digestifs/Digestivi on the menu. Such a classy way to dine don't you think?
Usually classified as a refreshing per-dinner drink designed to stimulate the appetite but anything goes these days depending on which country you are in. They can also be served after dinner (pre dessert or in place of) as a digestif and these are usually bitter sweet to aid digestion.
Traditionally, Italians are known to skip lunch and go straight out to dinner after work. A refreshing drink to re-invigorate them prior to dinner is often called for - hence the aperitivo!