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"Happy hour may be an American invention, but credit for the civilized ritual of downing a pre-dinner drink or two must go to the French, who came up with the notion of l’heure de l’apéro—aperitif hour—long before the first modern cocktail was shaken or stirred."
"An apéritif is is an alcoholic beverage usually served before a meal to stimulate the appetite. Common choices for an apéritif are vermouth, champagne, fine, Pastis, Absinthe, Dubonnet, Bonal, Suze, Lillet and La Troussepinete.
'Apéritif' may also refer to a snack that precedes a meal. This includes an amuse-bouche, such as crackers, cheese, pâté or olives. "Apéritif" is a French word derived from the Latin verb aperire, which means 'to open.'" - Wikipedia
In France, common aperitifs also include Pineau des Charentes and Floc de Gascogne, the former is only produced in the Charentes region of France, while the latter is only made in Gascony.
Great article by Chris Redman for FRANCE TODAY: Lillet: License to Chill