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In this article, we will discuss what apéro means and everything else you need to know about it.

Apéro is a cultural tradition in Europe, especially in France. Apéro can be a drink or a snack (but is often both) enjoyed before a meal as an appetizer. It is a time to unwind and socialise before dinner.


What is apéro?

Apéro is a French word meaning aperitif. An aperitif is an alcoholic drink taken before dinner; however, apéro the cultural tradition is much more than this.

As outlined above apéro is drink or food (or both) enjoyed before a meal. It is meant to whet the appetite for dinner, while unwinding and catching up with family and friends. Apéro usually takes place at home or in a bar.

Apéro can also mean a drink before dinner in a restaurant while you wait for your table or mull over the menu.

apero sign
Apéro sign in France

How to enjoy apéro like a local

Apéro is not a meal or a meal replacement – it is meant to whet the appetite, not to fill you up.

It is something to enjoy slowly, so sip your drink at your leisure and nibble while you relax and chat with friends.

What to drink for apéro

There is no one particular drink for apéro. It is really down to what you would like to drink or what is available.

Chilled white wine, rosé wine, and Champagne are all good drinks for apéro. Stronger drinks like gin and tonic or cocktails can also be a good choice.

Drinks that are probably better to avoid for apéro include any after-dinner drinks like brandy. Red wine is also less typical as it is usually served with dinner.

Traditional or typical apéro drinks in France include:


Kir is dry white wine with liqueur added. The liqueur can be Crème de Cassis or something else, like raspberry or peach.

Pastis or Pernod

Pastis is a French aniseed-flavored drink that is usually drank diluted with water. It is common in Southern France.

French cocktails

Kir Royale is a French Champagne cocktail. See our easy Kir Royale recipe if you want to make it.

French 75 is another French Champagne cocktail made with Champagne, gin and lemon juice.


What food to serve for apéro?

The food served for apéro is anything considered a light snack. It can be something as simple as nuts, olives or pretzels to nibble on while you sip your drink.

It really will depend on the host; how many are attending and whether it is a special occasion etc.

Typical food for apéro:

Cheese and Charcuterie Board

A cheese and charcuterie board is a popular option – a variety of cheeses, meats, and accompaniments such as crackers, bread, and fruits.

French cheese is famous for its quality and variety, with over 400 types of French cheese to choose from. A charcuterie board usually includes cured meats such as saucisson (dry sausage), jambon (ham), and pâté.

Savory Tarts and Quiches

Savory tarts and quiches are another popular option. Quiche Lorraine is a classic French tart made with eggs, cream, and bacon or ham.

Other popular tarts include: tomato and goat cheese tart, onion tart, and mushroom tart.

Oysters and Seafood

For seafood lovers, oysters and other shellfish are a popular choice for apéro. Oysters are usually served raw with lemon wedges and a shallot vinegar dressing.

Crab cakes and smoked salmon are also good options.


What time is apéro?

There is no set time for apéro, but it is usually in the evening after work and before dinner.

If you are planning dinner for 8 p.m., for example, organise apéro for 7-8 p.m.

What to bring to apéro

If you are in France or Europe, then any of the following will be suitable:

  • A bottle of dry white wine
  • Some cheese
  • Saucisson
  • Mini tartlets  

Apéro in Switzerland

Apéro is also popular in Switzerland and essentially has the same meaning as apéro in France – a drink and snacks as an appetizer before dinner. Like France, apéro in Switzerland is a casual social occasion.

Apéro pronunciation

The letter “e” is accented, so to pronounce apéro, emphasise the letter “e”. Listen to the correct pronunciation of apéro.

What language is Apéro?

Apéro is a French word that means aperitif.


Apéro vs Aperol

Apéro is a pre-dinner drink or snack to whet the appetite before dinner.

Aperol is an Italian liqueur that is orange in color and has a bitter taste. It is often used as an ingredient in Aperol Spritz, a drink which is usually a mix of Prosecco, Aperol and Club Soda.

Read with confidence: I am a certified wine expert (WSET L3).