The Art of l’Apéro

The days in Paris are getting longer as we approach mid year. The sun at this time usually sets at around 9PM, giving several whole hours of daylight to enjoy after work is done. What a treat! And I know just the way to fill a bit of that extra time…with the perfect Parisian apéro.

Paris Rendezvous

L’apéro is a distinctly French tradition that I suppose we could best liken to happy hour in the States. That’s right, imagine a very chic and European happy hour. Except instead of deals on drinks at the local bar, it’s more about savory bites and a nice beverage to unwind and hold you over until dinner later on, which we tend to eat quite late this time of year.

L’apéro is a very easy art to master and the perfect excuse for a bit of entertaining. It’s a simple way to bring the French art de vivre into your daily routine, slow down, and savor life. Should you want to play hostess without the burden of preparing an entire dinner, it’s the perfect idea!

There are only a few ground rules that need to be established, then the rest is up to you. The first is that apéro should always take place after work and before dinner. The second is that you serve a pairing of savory snacks and a refreshing beverage in style. Then you should always have a fresh baguette handy to serve with it. And last, but not least, is that you should use it as a time to relax and unwind.

I thought I would share a few ideas below to show you just how easy it is to master the art of the apéro! But feel free to mix and match my little recipes, and if you don’t like alcohol some sparkling water with a twist of lemon is always a nice substitute.

The Carnivore’s Apéro — For snacks pick up some dried sausage from the store or your local butcher, the more gourmet the better. Pair it with some finely sliced jambon de paris (Parisian ham) and place them thoughtfully on a nice platter. To cut the saltiness of the meat a Kir Royal is the perfect cocktail to pair with it, and easy as can be. Simply poor a table spoon of Crème de Cassis into your flutes and then fill them with champagne.

The Vegetarian Apéro — Cheese please! Grab a few of your favorite cheeses from your local cheese monger and make a nice little cheese platter. A balanced cheese platter usually has a mix of hard and soft cheeses, three or so is the perfect variety for an apéro. A perfectly chilled rosé will be a nice and light contrast to the cheese, while the wine and the cheese work together to bring out each other’s flavors.

The Vegan’s Apéro — A vegan apéro can be just as delicious as the rest! Dice up a bit of zucchini and lightly roast it in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash sea salt. Chill them for later when you serve them up with some olives and sun-dried tomatoes. For a drink pair it with a Saint Germain, an elderflower cocktail with a floral essence to nicely compliment the veggies. Simply mix one part Saint Germain liquor, one part white wine, and two parts sparkling water and finish it off with a twist of lemon or lime.

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