Happy hour is not only a time to come together and share, but also a great opportunity to try out new and delicious foods and drinks!
My very favorite time of the day is when l'heure de l'apéro begins." David Lebovitz makes no secret about his passion for this distinctly French tradition. The American chef, who has written a number of culinary-themed books, dedicates an entire chapter to the French answer to happy hour in his work, Drinking French. After attending countless cafés, restaurants, and dinners, his description of the apéro, that time "when the day is winding down and you're ready to relax with something to drink, and perhaps a few nibbles, before sitting down to dinner," almost sounds like he's writing about a person. In his book, he also confesses his fascination for the wide variety of French pre-dinner drinks, including Dubonnet, Lillet, and regional options such as Pineau des Charentes and Pommeau de Normandie.
Snacking isn't optional
Unlike our European neighbors, who go out for aperitivo in Italy or frequent tapas bars in Spain, the French don't tend to go out to bars or even restaurants for apéro. Fear of getting a ticket from the police makes people wary about having a few too many, if they don't avoid the practice altogether. Instead, the French enjoy apéro with their family, and especially with their friends.
Of course, your choice of drink is crucial—as are the snacks you provide. For proof, look no farther than the well-stocked savory cracker aisle at the corner grocery. Home-cooking aficionados will opt for high-quality products over store-bought versions. Every era has had its own type of trendy food. Canapés, pain surprise, and verrines all had their moment of fame between the 1970s and 2000s. Today's in-vogue snack consists of a cheese or charcuterie board featuring carefully selected products from local artisans paired with spreads served on fresh slices of sourdough or baguette. All that's left to do is invite your friends!