Dear Test Kitchen

What Is an Apéritif, Anyway?

Here's how to have cocktail hour the French way.

April 17, 2023

This article is part of an Aperitivo Hour series, featuring sips and snacks for the warming weather, presented by Patrón Ahumado.

Welcome to Apéritif 101! We’re so glad you’re here. So is our instructor, Rebekah Peppler, a writer, food stylist, and author of Apéritif. She’s here to answer all our apéritif questions, like: Um, what’s an apéritif? And which apéritifs are ideal for a home bar? And what’s the deal with shaking versus stirring cocktails? Watch the episode of Dear Test Kitchen above for the answers, and then some.

Pre-Dinner Drinks

1. Suze Tonic

This bright, bitter, floral drink comes by way of Rebekah’s book. “In an easy twist on the standard G&T, subbing in assertive Suze adds an earthy, oral bitterness to the drink while also lowering the alcohol content,” she writes. “Drink two!”

2. Aperitivo Frizzante

Here’s an easy-to-remember formula: 1 part bitter Italian liqueur, like amaro. 3 parts Prosecco. Orange twist in each glass, plus ice if you want it (I want it).

3. Cynar Spritz

Aperol spritzes may be all the rage, but I personally prefer a Cynar spritz. While the color isn’t as pretty, Cynar’s flavor is more complex and bitter, thanks to a slew of plants and herbs, including—wait for it—artichokes.

Snacks to Go With

1. Furikake Chex Mix

Think you love Chex mix? Just wait until you add a jar of furikake—a Japanese seasoning, usually made with sesame seeds, seaweed, sugar, salt, dried fish, and MSG.

2. Five Spice Oven-Roasted Nuts

Cocktails love roasted nuts. Especially these ones, which are tossed with five spice (a Chinese mixture featuring ingredients like cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and fennel) and some chili powder for good measure.

3. Warm Olives in Anchovy Oil

These aren't your average olives—anchovies are finely chopped, then simmered with garlic and rosemary, before the olives are tossed into the pan and warmed through for an umami-packed flavor upgrade. Perfect for pairing with a refreshing sip.

This post contains products that are independently selected by our editors, and Food52 may earn an affiliate commission. What’s your favorite apéritif? Tell us in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Caroline Bandy
    Caroline Bandy
  • Paula Carr
    Paula Carr
  • Judith Peres
    Judith Peres
  • Roland
  • Laurence Tillett
    Laurence Tillett
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


Caroline B. July 27, 2019
Your session on aperitifs was very informative and enjoyable. 😊🍸
Paula C. July 26, 2019
Please! Enunciate and don't mumble. I had my volume up to the max, and I was missing a lot.
Cassie R. July 26, 2019
I'm half deaf and at 1/4 volume I can hear just fine ... check your sound on whatever device?
Judith P. July 26, 2019
Holy Toledo, you guys!
Roland July 26, 2019
Rebekah did a wonderful interview with Dana Cowin on her Speaking Broadly podcast on the Heritage Radio Network. Worth a listen!
Laurence T. July 19, 2019
Aperol spritz is my personal favorite. However, discovered Pavan recently at a local restaurant that makes what they call “Florida Bubble”. Pavan, Prosecco, splash of soda. Slightly hubby’s favorite.
Pgh D. July 19, 2019
I’d just make an Aperol Spritz....
Candace G. July 3, 2019
Jake, NOT a rap vid. Cool it with the gesticulating, so we can focus on the cool ideas you share! Love ya!
Josee B. June 26, 2019
Excellent & very informative vid! Thanks!
Nathalie T. June 22, 2019
nice and informative presentation but please Food52 folks, we do not pronounce the 'c' at the end of blanc in French ! EVER ! it's a silent 'c'.
Cassie R. July 26, 2019
YES! It is, after all, about French drinks!?