I’m sitting on a terrace overlooking the gorgeous crescent-shaped beach of La Baule, my favorite town in Brittany. It’s 8pm, so naturally, I’m doing what every other responsible French citizen is doing on a summer evening…
It’s apéritif hour. Il est l’heure de l’apéritif. It’s apéritif hour.
The French apéritif, or before dinner drink, is a tradition everyone should have in their repertoire. It’s is about the ritual of taking une petite pause between the day’s activities and a pleasurable meal. Playfully nicknamed l’apéro, l’apéritif is a French word derived from the Latin verb aperire, which means “to open.” Designed to whet the appetite, it is served directly before a meal.
Whether you’re gathering with friends, celebrating an event, enjoying a gorgeous summer day, or just embracing life à la française, this is a time of day to kick back and relax.
Here’s how to do l’heure de l’apéro in style:
- For Something Sweet: Add a splash of blackberry liquor (crème de cassis) to white wine and you have a deliciously sweet Kir. Replace the wine with champagne for a Kir Royale.
- For Special Occasions: Celebrate with your favorite champagne or sparkling wine.
- For the Wine Lover: Look for a dry white wine or, in summer, a fresh rosé. Porto, known as a vin doux (“soft” wine), is a lighter wine that’s perfect before a big meal.
- For the Hot Summer Day: Sip on a tall glass of Pastis. Originating from Marseille in the south of France, this is a classic apéritif made with refreshing anise and licorice and served on ice for a fabulously cooling effect.
- Pair your drink with light hors d’oeuvres. The key here is to keep it very simple and light. Typical choices include: marinated olives, toasted nuts, parmesan sticks or a handful of gourmet chips.
Summer is peak apéritif season, so gather a few friends for an impromptu soirée, or better yet, make it a new tradition. Santé!