If you’re not familiar with the expression “cocktail dinatoire”, never mind, but it’s a clear signal that you’re neither French, nor familiar with Parisian habits. The pattern is always quite similar: friends, or friends of friends, invite you to a cocktail dinatoire in order to neither overwhelm you with a full-blown, formal dinner invitation, nor treat you too carelessly by just serving a glass of wine.
I always thought of it as a crossing between happy hour and dinner whilst there’s no straight definition. It’s a tricky concept. In the worst case, a cocktail dinatoire in Paris can mean drinking too much while nibbling pretzels and going to bed drunk, yet hungry.
In the better cases, it IS a full-blown dinner just pretending not to be one. And finally there’s the cocktail dinatoire I’d consider to be the real and perfect one, that’s when you spend an evening in good company while being served just the right quantity of original food accompanied by a couple of glasses of interesting wine.
That was my case yesterday evening. The hosts had prepared some mouth-watering verrine style starters, offered a selection of hot and cold finger food and as a real surprise they generously served a home made foie gras, perfectly cooked and seasoned. A beautiful thing; a highlight of a perfect cocktail dinatoire.
Here’s a picture gallery to fully understand the concept. Enjoy!