We’re coming up on Valentine’s Day and what country would be more fitting for a romantic date night in than France? I can’t think of one! I’m going to share a couple of date night in options from this favorite country of mine. First up is a more casual date night in, more of a cocktail hour. Apéro .
I have to admit I had no idea what Apéro was until the pandemic struck and I was trying to find ways to keep things interesting at home. I started following David Lebovitz on Instagram, he’s a professional chef and author who lives in Paris. Basically, he’s an American living my dream in France. So jealous! He would host a live Apéro Hour with drink ideas and snack recipes on his account.
Apéro is the French version of happy hour (apéro is short for apéritif, a pre-dinner drink to stimulate the appetite), but there are some differences between the two. The happy hours that we know here in The States generally happen after work at a bar and end around 7pm at the latest. Apéro can be at a bar but is more often at someone’s home and can last as late as 9pm!
What to Eat:
No cooking is necessary! This is the perfect weeknight date night for when you aren’t in the mood to cook after work but still want to do something special. I love to make this on a Wednesday as a midweek treat. Here are some things to include on your Apéro spread. (I basically just go crazy at Trader Joe’s)
Cheese : Brie, Comté, goat, mozzarella or Burrata, Fourme d’Ambert, Camembert, Port Salut
Charcuterie: saucisson (dry sausage,) dry ham, prosciutto
Spreads / dips: tapenade, rillettes, terrine, fig jam, apricot jam, pesto (sundried tomato is really good), tzatziki, hummus
Fruits / veggies: cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, radishes, cucumber, melon, grapes, berries
Salty bites : nuts, olives, cornichons
Sweet bites: dark chocolate, caramels
Vehicles: baguette, olive bread, pita chips, crackers
What to Drink:
Apéro drinks tend to be light on the alcohol. Lillet Blanc is a wonderful liquor to have for your Apéro. It is an aromatized wine with a hint of orange, from the Bordeaux region that has been around since 1872. A Lillet Blanc Tonic or a Lillet Winter Vive is light and refreshing, the perfect Apéro drink.
Anything with “spritz” in the name is generally a good Apéro choice. David Lebovitz has a great book called Drinking French, that is full of creative choices, the Byrrh Cassis Aperitif and the Jasmine Cocktail are pretty tasty.
Of course you can drink your beverage of choice. Beer, wine, San Pellegrino. I made some great mocktails during Dry January and recently discovered Seedlip (thanks Pam!) which is non alchoholic and is perfect for a spritz. You do you…this is YOUR Apéro!
What to Listen to:
You want some upbeat background music with a chill vibe, if that makes sense. It makes sense in my head. 🙂 We use Spotify a lot and I have found some great playlists on there. If you just search Apéro a bunch will pop up, but I also made my own to to share with you.
What to Do:
Remember Apéro is a very casual meal. What do you normally do at a happy hour? Chit chat and maybe play some games. Dig out some playing cards, dominos, mancala or your chess set. We love the game Mille Bornes, which I grew up playing. It’s a French racing card game. We have an old vintage version that has both French and English words on the cards. I think it’s making a comeback because I noticed more stores carrying the game during the holidays. It’s super fun.
As your Apéro starts to wind down and you feel like watching a movie to end your evening. I recommend Lost in Paris. It’s on Amazon and it’s so quirky! It’s a light, fun movie that is a great way to end your casual date night in.
I hope you enjoy your French Apéro night in. If the weather is mild, it’s always nice to enjoy your snacks outside as well. Santé!