This month I’ve been involved in quite a number of social gatherings, two of which I had the pleasure of influencing. One was an amazing BBQ I hosted in the gorgeous sun last week and the second being a far more emotional occurrence, the passing of a close friend’s mother. I helped organise the ceremony and provided the most of catering. But, if there is one thing I’ve learned, regardless of the occasion, however joyful or tearful it is, the drinks and nibbles always bring people together. So, we gotta do it right! Side note, I managed to source an amazing funeral director at the last minute through LocalFuneral.
Anyway, so, it’s the concept of the “apéritif dinatoire” or “apéro dinatoire” as the cool kids call it. Drinks & Nibbles party, Cocktails & Hors d’oeuvres, Drinks & Buffet, etc, call it what you want, you’ve probably taken part in this one as well. It’s basically an extended Apéritif, fuller and longer, that replaces a formal, sit-down dinner with so many little nibbles that they form a full meal. And booze, of course.
Less formal, less constraining in terms of prep, and more convivial than a classic meal, the Drinks & Nibbles night is bound to be a winner for most occasions. Want to give it a shot for your next party with your friends? Here are some of our tips and tricks for organising your Apéro dinatoire.
Tip no 1: Organise your time well
The formula of the Drinks & Nibbles party is certainly cooler and more relaxed than a classic dinner. However, you do not want to take the preparation lightly if you wish to avoid a few setbacks and disappointments. So, remember to organise your schedule so that everything goes for the best. Anticipate what culinary preparations require a certain cooking time, how much time you need to arrange your verrines and other presentations, the chronology of different catering elements, etc… For more serenity, don’t hesitate to delegate some tasks such as welcoming guests, keeping an eye on the oven, etc…
Tip no 2: Choose the right nibbles and the right presentation
Did you think organising an Apéro dinatoire was going to save you from the dinner-style headache of choosing the right ingredients and recipes? Think again dear friend. Drinks & Nibbles means loads of nibbles and prep. You can of course choose to prepare everything yourself in advance (just remember tip no 1 and plan your time well!). But you can also opt for readymade formulas. Good thing is, they are often already presented in an elegant and refined fashion. Head to M&S for tasty nibbles made with good ingredients or Cook for the frozen option if you want to plan well in advance.
Presentation is not to be neglected. Remember than carefully arrange verrines or platters can take some time and patience, and you will need to account for that! Arrange all your nibbles on one table if possible, and remember: the volume is bigger than that of a regular pre-dinner event, so offer side plates and forks or spoons. The real stuff is always nicer (you could have a variety of different small vintage plates for colour and so that every guest can recognise his or hers!) but if you are running short try and get some quality plastic crockery, or melanine picnic ware which is more solid and cheaper than china.
Tip no 3: Diversify drinks!
For an Apéro dinatoire, your guests will spend a lot of time on nibbles. But they need hydration too! And here, the more guests you have, the more variation you could have in tastes and requirements. Rather than impose one drink on everyone, widen the scope of offers: champagne, rum, whisky, fruity cocktails, etc. Don’t forget the people who don’t drink alcohol, and have different offers here too (cucumber water, juice, soda…). Calculate your stocks well to make sure the party doesn’t get dry!
Tip no 4: Create a vibe, add some ambiance!
One of the great things about a Drinks & Nibbles party is that your guests don’t have to sit on their fixed chairs and talk with their table neighbours. Dim the lights, choose a playlist of the latest tunes or timeless classics, decorate your reception area nicely (fairy lights, candles, flowers…) and be the first to put some spirit into the party. More on the shy side? Find your most outgoing buddy and entrust him or her with the mission!