Daily dilemmas: Which drink is the best for the classic French apéro?

The aperitif, or apéro, occupies something of a sacred space in the French day and there are strict rules on appropriate bevvies - but which do readers of The Local prefer?

Daily dilemmas: Which drink is the best for the classic French apéro?
What should you serve at apéro time? Photo: ADT 04/Flickr

Of course there are many drink options, but we gave readers the choice of the luridly orange Aperol Spritz (actually Italian in origin but at this time of year you can barely move for them on French café terraces) and the French summer classic rosé wine.

In the most decisive poll we have run so far in our Daily Dilemmas series, readers voted overwhelmingly for a nice chilled glass of rosé.

On Facebook the vote came out at 68 percent in favour of rosé.

While on Twitter readers were leaning slightly more in the direction of Aperol – by one percent.


But readers of The Local are a discerning bunch with wide-ranging taste, and they also came up with some other suggestions for a great apéro drink. Here are some of the best:

Kare Revaud was one of many people who backed a kir (white wine with cassis) or kir royale (sparkling white wine with cassis).

Pastis – the aniseed flavoured spirit particularly beloved in southern France – also received strong backing.

Hazel Mills said: “Prefer rosé to Aperol but would go for a Pastis first!”

Wine or Champage was a popular choice, with Gail Koepf suggesting: “A sweet wine and some walnuts.”

While Charles Norman Widdall prescribed the delicious sounding: “Edinburgh Rhubarb and Ginger Gin with a teaspoonful of frozen winter berries and tonic”.

Here at The Local we are big fans of the aromatised wine Lillet – often served with tonic and a slice of cucumber in the summer. It's apparently Hannibal Lecter's favourite drink, so it must be good.


The apéro is a serious business in France, and not to be confused with a 'happy hour' which is simply when bars offer cheap drinks.

A traditional apéro involves some food, but as this is a pre-dinner drink there won't be much to eat so you won't spoil your appetite.

Olives, a little bit of sausage or cheese, humous or tapenade are all frequently seen, as is foie gras if you're either at a very posh event or simply in the Périgord.

As for drinks, well there are some quite strict rules.

Kir is an apéro classic as is pastis but you could drink Campari, Vermouth or Aperol.

White wine, especially a sweet one, is quite common, as is rosé in the summer months or Champage but red wine will never be seen as the French believe that it should only be drunk with meals.

Beer was traditionally not invited to an apéro but these days is becoming more common, especially as craft beers and ales gain popularity in France.

Generally apéro time is somewhere between 6pm and 9pm, but it really depends when you want to eat.

For more on how to throw a classy apéro for your friends and neighbours, click here.

READ ALSO: Chartreuse to Calvados – The ultimate booze map of France




Member comments

  1. A little old lady in the country introduced me to Suze. Admittedly a very different drink. But I have come to enjoy it with a big piece of ice in it as she taught me. I also enjoy Frenet Branca. I am a strange person people tell me.

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