If you have tried to live in more than one country, you already have discovered that each country have its own special linguistic concepts for moments that are highly connected with the national character.
When I lived in Sweden, it took me long time to understand the concept ‘fika’. The Swedes wanted to ‘fika’ all the time and I understood it had something to do with coffee, but it took me long time to understand why to ‘fika’ was so central to Swedish life.
In Denmark it is the concept ‘hygge’ which tells a lot about the Danish national character. And even though is it just one word, I know that it is difficult for foreigners to truly get the concept.
In Geneva the word must be ‘apéro’. I guess The Charming Swiss Man fells the same for l’heure de l’apéro as my grandfather felt for a Danish old school lunch with aquavit: it is the best time of the day!
An apéro is one drink [or more] you share with good friends in the end of the day. It is a bit the same as an aperitif before a meal, but the difference is that there not necessarily follows a meal after the apéro. Also you don’t need to end your evening with the same people you shared the apéro with. You can have an apéro with John and Kate at 18.30 and then meet up with Isabelle and Jean for dinner at 20.00.
An apéro is also a way to brake the ice. You can for example invite your neighbors or new colleagues for an apéro. For most people apéro is a magic word and it will be easy to say ‘yes’ to an invitation. It will be quite informal and people [probably] won’t stay all night.
If you want to serve something with the apéro, then you can go for olives, nuts, sausages, carved vegetables, dips, sandwiches and small kinds of starters.