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!

Hosting A Perfect Drinks And Nibbles Party

I have big connections with London. I was born there although my childhood was spent in Yorkshire after my first 11 months on the planet. My uncle lived there and we would visit him regularly. Later both my brothers lived in London and I remember a lovely Christmas there walking in Hyde Park on a snowy Christmas morning. Dining in London back then was ordering haddock and chips from the local takeaway.

Dining in London is on my mind as I think about my forthcoming milestone birthday. I want to do afternoon tea at the Ritz. It would be a new experience and if I don’t do it now I am not sure it will happen. I love the whole concept of afternoon tea with dainty sandwiches and pastries not to mention scones (however you choose to pronounce that word!) with indulgent clotted cream. I also like the idea of experimenting with different teas as I hardly ever drink tea so that would be a novel experience. Since I will be there for a birthday, champagne will be waiting for me too. When I dine out I like the whole ambience of a place and I like stylish surroundings and the idea of chandeliers and mirrors whilst I luxuriate in a day off sounds just perfect.

I have eaten out in London over the years and my favourite place to eat is the Savoy again because the dining room is stunningly beautiful. The service is so very good. As for the food, it is so difficult to highlight any course that I have enjoyed most as I have never had a bad one. I do recall a particularly inventive cheesecake but then I am a huge fan of any cheesecake.

As I started to write this post I remembered a long held dream to visit Kettners in Soho. Soho always has such a fun vibe to it anyway. However, a family memory is what makes me want to go to Kettners for the first time. My Dad once went out with my uncle and his boyfriend to Kettners after a day at a sporting event. Dad never forgot the fun of that night. As I understand things much alcohol was consumed. My uncle’s boyfriend was quite strait-laced but apparently jumped up and span around a lamp post At the time Dad was married with small children and a busy police career. I think it was a night when he felt carefree and he still spoke about that night in his final year with us.

Taking a look at the Kettners website, it does not surprise me that it has a saucy past. It looks so stylish with mirrors and warm wood furnishings. I love the fact that so many celebrated creative have dined in this place. I had to stop looking at the French-inspired menu as I was salivating at the mere thought of dining in London at Kettners. What started as a bit of a whim to eat there has now become a definite intention. Even better you can stay overnight so it’s time for me to start planning my trip and perhaps incorporating a theatre show too.

Click here if you want to investigate your own dream dining in London experience.

Where would you recommend for dining in London?

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