Who doesn’t like a good happy hour? I know I do – How about a French styled hour of fete – or, an apéro. It’s not complicated at all and you will follow these easy steps to host a fabulous apéro. An apéro is an aperitif, an appetizer, a drink, or light food served before dinner. While the word apéro does not exist in English but the French term “apéritif” is sometimes used to mean drinks and appetizers served before a meal.
The apéro is neither lunch, brunch, dinner, or even happy hour. In fact, the French do not snack in the same way Americans do. For the French, snack time is the apéro – and it is a quintessential French way to end the workday and gather with friends and family. Apéro can be as basic or as elevated as you wish – hosted at home, on a stoop or a nearby café. Grab what you have on hand – chips, olives, nuts and your favorite light wine. The most important addition of course is friends. Let’s walk through the steps to host a fabulous apéro.
First, choose a proper time and location.
Find a location that is most inviting and comfortable. Apéro generally starts at 6pm. Enjoy small sips and bites for 1 to 3 hours. After hours of grazing and drinking, you can fully end your event without serving your guests a full meal.
Second, set the scene.
Since apéro is a casual affair, you can host a fabulous apéro without using any special decorations. However, since eating a sensory past time, why not make it pretty? I recommend displaying elegant wooden bowls and marble platters, baskets for small linen napkins, pretty glassware – some votives and a few posies in mini vases.
Third, add noshes and bites.
Step away from the stove! Your spread should be easily eaten and shareable. More importantly, cooking is not required. But if you must, prepare a mini quiche in advance or make little gougeres. Stop at your gourmet deli and pick up a combination of the following:
Spreads/dips: olive tapenade, rillettes, fois gras terrine, fig jam, tomato pesto (or regular), tzatziki, hummus
Fruits/veggies: cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, radishes, cucumber, melon, grapes, cornichons
Salty/Crunchy bites: nuts, kettle chips, cheese sticks
Breads: baguette, pain de campagne (sliced), pain aux noix et raisin, bruschetta, pita chips, gougères
Fourth – bring on the Cocktails!
I use the term cocktails very loosely. The last thing you want, is to spend time away from your guests mixing drinks. So, set out bottles of very cold light white wine, rose, or flavored Rhum. Adding these mini individuals serve wine bottles are a neat way to add something fun. Cold light IPA would be great here as well.
After setting up your tablescape, the final thing to do is to greet your guests as they arrive. Welcome them in, delight in the hours ahead and enjoy your fabulous apéro. Santé!