The apéritif, or apéro, is a pre-dinner drink, a cultural and social ritual that’s enjoyed all over France. However, it’s an event that can be enjoyed anywhere - including online.
To celebrate the launch of a stylish new bottle in the UK, Bardinet brandy has teamed up with Francophile author and French food and drink specialist Janine Marsh, to share the secrets of this great French tradition – and to introduce Brits to the new trend of ‘Whatsappero’ that’s growing in popularity across France.
Apéro is more than a happy hour or just a drink
L’apéro, short for apéritif, describes a way of living and eating in France. It’s a chance to wind down and enjoy a drink and snacks with friends and family. The French keep l'heure de l'apéro simple, it’s not about making a fuss but about friendship and sharing. French author Paul Morand famously wrote “L’apéritif, c’est la prière du soir des Français.” or "The aperitif is the evening prayer of the French".
These days, getting together is more important than ever, and though we might not be able to do it in person, the internet makes a meet up possible. Zoom, Facetime, Skype and WhatsApp are the new ‘in’ places to meet up this year – inspiring a new trend: virtual apéro.
Here’s how to celebrate with a glass of something scrumptious online…
Top tips for online apéro
Make it a celebration:
The last thing you want is to make your online apéro feel like a zoom meeting! Small group meet ups work best as it can be hard to hear when everyone’s chatting. Send out your invitation and make it even more special by gifting guests a bottle of something special or let them know what to bring, including ingredients for a delicious cocktail and nibbles.
Cocktails and conviviality:
A drink is essential to successful apéro but it isn’t just about wine and Champagne. Now’s the perfect time to practice your mixology skills at home. Brandy – or the water of life as it’s called in France – is often thought of as an after dinner drink, but it’s perfect for mixing up a range of special ‘apéritif’ cocktails. Try these deliciously festive mixes created by French mixologist Arnaud Volte from the London EDITION hotel:
Bardinet Christmas Stocking
Orange liqueur tastes amazing when paired with brandy. And because it’s Christmas, the bubbles come from a Brut champagne, highlighting the grape notes from the spirit.
35ml Bardinet Brandy
10ml orange liqueur such as Cointreau
5ml caramel syrup (such as Monin)
Very cold Champagne
Stir ingredients (except champagne) for 10 seconds with some ice and strain in to a champagne flute. Top with the champagne.
Bardinet Pomme Canelle
Apple and cinnamon are really festive flavours that match well with the vanilla and dried fruits notes of Bardinet Brandy.
35ml Bardinet Brandy
15ml lemon juice
15ml cinnamon syrup
20ml clear apple juice
To make cinnamon syrup:
Mix 100gm water, 100gm caster sugar and 2 cinnamon sticks In a pan, heat up the water and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Cut and add the sticks, infuse for 10/15 mins. Cool and strain.
Mix all the ingredients in a wine glass and top with soda water. Garnish with a slice of lemon wedge and a cinnamon stick.
There are always snacks served at l'heure de l'apéro and it can be as simple as nuts, crisps and olives. But the French love to make it a little bit special without too much effort. Make these mouth-wateringly moreish mouthfuls in minutes:
70 g of softened butter
100 g of Roquefort at room temperature
Crush the Roquefort and butter with a fork, to make a paste.
Smother on crackers or blinis, small pieces of bread or toast. Sprinkle crushed walnuts over for extra oh la la!
Boozy Baked Camembert
250g Camembert (you can also use Brie)
Bunch fresh thyme
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey)
1 tablespoon Bardinet brandy
Unwrap the cheese and then place back in the box. Tie some string around the box so it keeps its shape.
Make small incisions in the top of the cheese. Peel and finely slice the garlic and poke it into the camembert with a few small sprigs of thyme.
Mix the honey and brandy together and drizzle over the cheese.
Bake at 170°C for around 20 minutes. Serve with bread or crackers for dipping.
Create a French atmosphere with a bit of background music. Django Reinhardt’s Minor Swing, Dernière Danse by Indila, La Mer by Charles Trenet are soooo French!
Fun, fun, fun:
Apéro is all about chatting and catching up with each other (steer clear of politics as a discussion topic if you want to keep everyone happy). It’s also a great opportunity for playing games whether it’s in person or online. Charades, quizzes and karaoke all work really well and create memorable moments, and they’re especially good for when the whole family are together.
Apéro is a really great way to inspire new festive traditions with your favourite people – even when you’re far apart.