An Apéro is about relaxation and visiting. It represents the essence of French living.
The whole event of drinking an apéritif, visiting, and relaxing, is known as an Apéro. So, for example, you would go to someone’s house for an Apéro, and the apéritif is only a part of it.
Just in case you don’t know, an apéritif is an alcoholic beverage that is served prior to dinner, to stimulate the taste buds, and the appetite for the upcoming meal, and it’s the primary way to welcome guests just like French people do.
In France it is typically served with a salty snack, like nuts, crackers, or olives. But, the point is not to get full before dinner, so just a small assortment of snacks will do. Guests can make their choice, and enjoy a small glass, while they relax, and enjoy one another’s company, before dinner. It is such a joy, as the conversation usually involves discussing the different apéritifs served, and their origins. Here is a list of the top five aperitif options.
It is a sweet, fortified wine that is yellow in color. It is meant to be sipped, and pairs well with salted nuts. Muscat is usually served chilled, in a small glass, about one third full.
Ricard is quintessentially French, and it is an anise and licorice flavored spirit, that is mixed with water, prior to serving. This one is great to have on a hot day, and pairs well with olives.
To serve Ricard, the French usually pour a small amount of Ricard in a glass, and serve it with a carafe of ice cold water. To get an idea of the ratios, you’ll want to mix 1 part Ricard, with 5 parts cold water. You can serve this over ice, in a tall or short glass.
This one is a sweet, fortified red wine that is made in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. It is sometimes referred to as the French cousin of the Spanish or Portuguese port wine. But, this particular one is made exclusively in France. It got its name from the coastal town, Banyuls-sur-Mer, where it originated. Banyuls is best served slightly chilled, and in a small wine glass.
Kir is a popular apéritif in France. It is actually a mixture of two things, Crème de cassis, and dry white wine. Crème de cassis is a sweet, dark liqueur, made from black currants. A Kir can also be made with other fruit liqueurs, but cassis is the most traditional. To make a Kir, mix 9 parts white wine, with one part creme de cassis. This apéritif is typically served in a wine glass.
This is a classic choice, especially if you are celebrating a special occasion. Champagne is a great apéritif on its own, but the French will also mix it with Crème de cassis, to make a Kir Royale. Champagne is served slightly chilled in a flute glass. You may have to visit a specialty wine store to get some of these, but it is really worth it! If you don’t have access to a specialty store, you can order some of these online.
There is nothing better than inviting friends over for a petit Apéro in the evening. Adopting this ritual, is an easy way to add a little French living to your life, without even leaving your house.