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Love France… Apéritifs

“Apéritif” or “apéro” is a wonderful way to start any French evening with drinks, nibbly bits, friendship and conversation. Here is our definitive guide on this great French tradition…

What is an “apéritif”?
Going for an “apéritif” or “apéro” means going for an early evening drink with your family, friends or colleagues. They are enjoyed any night of the week in a bar, outside “en terrasse”, or at somebody’s home. It is the opportunity for French people to relax, enjoy each other’s company, catch up with friends, and share the latest gossip…

When do you drink them?
Apéritifs are usually taken between 6 and 8pm, just before dinner – to whet your appetite.

What do you drink?
Anything you like! A fresh glass of rosé, a beer, or a “menthe à l’eau” (mint cordial) for kids and teetotallers. Each region has its specialty, like the famous anise-flavoured spirit “Pastis” in the Marseille area, or the “Pineau” wine in Charente and Charente-Maritime. And of course, if you want to be chic or celebrate something special, you can always have a glass of champagne. A “Kir” is a very popular apéritif (white wine with “crème de cassis”) which is turned into a “Kir Royal” simply by swapping the white wine for champagne. Don’t forget to clink glasses (“trinquer”) with everybody and look at them in the eyes before you drink!

And to eat?
Since this is France, there has to be some delicious food involved. People like eating savoury treats to go with their drink, like salted peanuts, bits of cheese, crackers, or “saucisson” (dry cured sausage). If you want to play it healthy, you can choose cherry tomatoes or bits of fresh vegetables such as carrots and cucumbers with a sauce to dip them into.

People clinking glasses for an aperitif

What’s new? The “apéritif dînatoire”
The “apéritif dînatoire” is more and more in vogue in France. It combines “apéritif” and dinner, and consists in making dinner only out of appetizers. The perfect balance if you want to invite people over but don’t feel like cooking a whole meal…

Language buddy…
Here are a few sentences you may find useful in an “apéro” situation:

Passe à la maison prendre un apéro ! (Come to my place for an “apéro”!)
C’est l’heure de l’apéritif ! (It’s “apéritif” time)
Je t’offre un apéritif ? (Would you like an “apéritif”?)
Qu’est-ce que je te sers ? / Qu’est-ce que tu bois ? (What would you like to drink?)
Prendre un verre (To have a drink)
Santé !/A la vôtre ! (Cheers!)

Well now you are ready to enjoy a perfect, relaxing apéritif, and be a bit more French!