The Making of Drinking French

A few years ago, after My Paris Kitchen came out, I began thinking about what I’d write about next. Whenever you have a book come out, the most common question is, “What’s your next book?” Sometimes you already have an idea, but other times, it’s nice to sit back and enjoy what you’ve written. I was happy that people took to that book so much, and after a respite, I started thinking about what to write about next.

Because I was asked about it so much, I decided that telling the story of my apartment renovation would make an interesting book, which turned out to be true, knowing that people would be surprised at what a comedy of errors it turned out to be.

But another subject I found myself becoming more and more interested in was the culture and traditions of French drinkings, and the drinks themselves. I submitted both proposals at once, nearly six years ago, in a two-book arrangement with my publisher, deciding to tackle the renovation story first while it was still fresh in my mind and take on French drinks when I was done. That ended up being a good thing…because I needed a drink after reliving L’Appart…and from what many of you have told me after reading it, so did you!

French friends and people I met during the process of writing Drinking French, gave me curious looks when I told them the subject. Each would stop for a moment, processing the information, having never considered French drinks to be the subject of an entire book, even though French food has been widely explored. before launching into a story about a long-lost French apéritif the previous generation had enjoyed, such as Dubonnet or Suze. When I explained how people in France drink, and what they drink, have such an important role in their culture, and are fascinating to others who come to France to sit in a café and have a coffee, or have a carafe of vin maison (house wine) ordered off a chalkboard on the wall with dinner, every French person I mentioned the project to nodded in approval. So I went all-in.

(Thomas Donahue, owner and founder of Deck & Donahue brewery, featured in the book, with his wife Danielle Lavadenz, owner of Le Saint-Sébastien restaurant in Paris.)

I’ve worked with my publisher Ten Speed Press on most of my other books, and was happy to be working with them again. I’ve known some of them for nearly twenty years. They took a chance on my ice cream book, when another editor passed, telling me, “You don’t have a show on Food Network.” The Perfect Scoop has been so successful that they asked me to do a revised and updated edition, which continues to sell very well. (That’s not bragging, but a good reminder that having people pass on your work isn’t always a bad thing, and that it’s also good to be loyal to the people that help you out.)

After they reviewed my sample chapters, a list of places I wanted to profile to help tell the story, and a list of the recipes, my editor, Julie, sent me a timeline for the book, aka: There goes my summer vacation…

I decide the best way to start the book was as a typical day starts in France, which is with breakfast at home, sipping a café au lait, or in a café, drinking a café crème or café express at the bar. Since I’m not a morning person, I’m invariably in my kitchen and kick things off with my Café au lait (page 8). But I couldn’t resist making a note in the book about presumably well-meaning people correct others, who use the French name for a short black coffee, which is indeed an express, (or expresso) also called a café noir or un p’tit noir.

When lunchtime rolls around, a glass of wine might be enjoyed with the plat du jour, even as la Coca, or Coca light or Coca zéro, have been making inroads. Throughout the day, people stop into their local café to sit with friends and sip a Limonade (page 36), a Citron pressé (page 33) or a colorful minty Menthe à l’eau or grenade (page 37) made with red pomegranate syrup. And yes, I’ve included recipes for homemade Fresh Mint syrup (page 272) and Pomegranate syrup (page 274) in the book, so you can make them at home if you want to skip (or can’t find) store-bought syrups.

(There’s also a story that, for space reasons, I had to trim from the book: I originally thought the drink was called a menthalo, which is how menthe à l’eau, is pronounced. Spoken French doesn’t always correspond, phonetically, with written French, so I spent a considerable amount of time digging for more information about the elusive menthalo…and couldn’t understand why I kept coming up with nothing in books or online.)

Being France (and being me), chocolate needed to be well-represented in the book, too. So in addition to steaming glasses of Vin chaud (mulled wine, page 26) that are offered up in cafés to mitigate the chill of winter, I included three different hot chocolate recipes (pages 13-16), because it was hard to stop at just one.

The first is a traditional, rich, thick Parisian Hot Chocolate, the kind that’s so thick you have to tip your head all the way back to get that last gulp lining the bottom of the cup. Of the two others, one is a version of a Spiced Hot Chocolate that I enjoyed at a pastry shop in the Marais while working on the book, which, as soon as I tasted it, immediately made me realize that I had to include it in the book.

The other was my long-lost Salted Butter Caramel Hot Chocolate, which I tried to make into a handy mix that people could make at home many years ago, with a friend whose family harvests salt in Brittany. But I couldn’t accurately recreate it in a powdered form, so here it is – in the book! – as are the Armagnac marshmallows shown that are floating in the hot chocolate at the beginning of this post. How could I present three hot chocolate recipes but no marshmallow? That would be mean.

For spring and summer, I’ve got you covered with a trio of icy Frappés (pages 27-30.) Two are bolstered with coffee and chocolate (above), and the third is an adults-only frappé, with just a wee shot of Bay-lèze, from our friends in Ireland, whose liqueur I learned is surprisingly popular in France.

Later in the day, as evening rolls around, beer and wine become the drink of choice. Or perhaps a cocktail before dinner, finishing off the evening with a digestive such cognac or Armagnac, two of France’s best-known spirits. However there are a number of French drinks that are less familiar, such as eau-de-vie, crystal-clear distillations of fruits, vegetables, and even roots. On a trip to Dijon to visit Vedrenne, to learn how they make their fruit syrups and spirits, I met Matt Sabbagh, one the last traveling distillers in France, who distills eau-de-vie on the back of a truck, which he ages into Marc de Bourgogne and Fin de Bourgogne, two nearly-forgotten spirits that he is not only hoping to keep alive – but he wants to see them thrive. I was captivated by what he was doing out there in a cold field in Burgundy, where we met.

Wherever he parks his alembic still, in village squares or out in the countryside, locals bring him whatever they’ve grown in their gardens and yards, to distill into eau-de-vie. Matt just started making gin as well, used to make the newly popular Gin To (gin & tonic), which is threatening to replace the Aperol Spritz (which replaced the Mojito) as the trendy drink of choice in France.

But if you’re a fan of the Spritz, as I am, there’s a recipe for a Corsican Cap Corse Spritz (page 108), a Tangerine Spritz (page 66), as well as a spritzy, grapefruit-based Suze in Paradise from Quentin Chapus of the Fédération Française de l’Apéro. So if you’re a fan of French apéritifs, as I am, you’ll find a whole chapter filled with dozens of classic and contemporary French apéro recipes.

Matt also made me a terrific lunch out in the wild of duck confit, cooked on his boiling-hot still, which we feasted on in the breezy hills outside of Beaune, with local white wine, baguettes, and charcuterie. What a day that was! How could I not feature Matt in the book?

Elsewhere in France, I hit the road, winding my way up the alps, riding trains, and lolling around the Mediterranean, to discover the backgrounds of some of the most enduring French spirits and apéritifs. Certainly one of the most famous is Dolin vermouth and Pierre-Olivier Rousseaux, whose family owns the distillery, showed me how they make the world-famous dry French vermouth, known as vermouth de Chambéry.

Not only did he show me the vintage bottles they’ve collected over the years, he also shared with me their recipes too. Smitten with the handwritten ledgers (below), I asked if I could take a photo. Uncharacteristically for a spirit-maker, he said, “Sure! What are you going to do? Start a vermouth company?” So I did.

For the record,  I have no plans to make or market my own vermouth, save for the French vermouth recipe which is on page 129 in Drinking French, in case you want to give it a go. Just don’t tell anyone I told you to do so.

Many French spirits have a long affiliation with the United States, cemented by prohibition, which pushed Americans looking for a drink to head to France, where a number of classic cocktails were born, such as the Sidecar, the Bloody Mary, and my favorite, the Boulevardier. They’re all in the cocktail chapter, which kept growing and growing and growing. At one point, my editor reminded me that there were only around sixteen cocktail recipes in my original proposal. So even though books are slotted (and priced) according to size, she gave me the go-ahead to include them all. So be ready to drink up, folks.

Dolin vermouth has had an extra-special affiliation with America, and helpfully came up with a non-alcoholic vermouth to ship to the States during the years when the eighteenth amendment went into effect. While Dolin was founded by a botanist, Joseph Chavasse, his daughter Marie Dolin (her married name) was the one who eventually took control of the company and successfully ran it for many years. After explaining that bit of history to me, Pierre-Olivier thought about it for a moment, then told me that for most of its existence, Dolin has been a woman-run company. Vive la vermouth!

Dolin eventually took over production of Bonal, a quinine-based apéritif that was formulated nearby, whose labels reflect the botanicals used to make the drink (below), although in some cases, there’s a key used, as the drink had once been promoted in France as the “key” to opening up your appetite, which apéritifs are thought to do. The French word apéritif comes from the Latin word aperire, which means to “open up,” although we chuckled at how rules have changed and you can’t allude to liquor having any sort of healing quality anymore, but it’s still okay to say À votre santé!…or, To your health!, when lifting a drink and toasting others. After all, we’re not savages.

Looking at all the bottles on the shelves at the Dolin distillery fueled an obsession of mine with vintage labels and spirits bottles while working on the book, and made me realize that, like many things in France, a bottle of liquor isn’t just something to drink – there’s invariably a very interesting, and often long, history behind it. I wanted to share those in the book so I profiled the most popular French liqueurs and apéritifs with vignettes throughout the book about what they are, how they’re made, where they came from, and what’s the best way to enjoy them.

I don’t know of any liqueur whose history is longer, and more interesting, than that of Chartreuse. The liqueur is around four hundred years old, but the Carthusian monks who make it started their journey nearly a thousand years ago.

Much has happened since my last visit twenty years ago to Voiron, where Chartreuse is made, including a new distillery built in the mountains on the same site where one of their previous distilleries had burned to the ground. In addition to facing the wrath of neighbors and natural disasters that destroyed their work, the monks of Chartreuse were also expelled from France, heading across the border into Tarragonia (Spain), where they continued to distill their liqueur until they were allowed to return to France.

In the last few years, as waves of cocktail culture continued to sweep across the world, including in America, Chartreuse became an almost cult-like liqueur/obsession. I use it in baking, for roasting figs and making chocolate soufflés, but until this visit, I never knew that Chartreuse was once a toothpaste (dentifrice.) Talk about an incentive for brushing your teeth!

At one point the French government demanded the recipe for Chartreuse, which the monks were forced to comply with. Fortunately it was returned to them with a note that the recipe was “too complicated.” It was a fortuitous stroke of luck for them, as only two monks guard the secret recipe to this day, so no one else can produce it.

While our friends in Italy are given credit for inventing vermouth (although similar herb-infused wines were previously made in Greece), Noilly Prat is considered the first French vermouth, which is barrel-aged outdoors to replicate the oxidation and evaporation that the wines originally went through as they traveled in barrels from the vineyards in Spain on boats, before other ways to transport the wines came into use.

Times have changed, but they still let the wine mellow outside for months to make their popular vermouth. I visited during the winter when things were overcast, quiet, and cool, and enjoyed oysters by the Mediterranean, along with tastes of the various vermouths Noilly Prat makes. I also stayed in one of the best guest houses in France, with two of the nicest hosts I’ve ever met. One (vermouth) is extra-dry, created for the American market, a since we like our Martinis (pages 97, 157, and 207) cold, crisp, and clear. But I also tasted Ambré vermouth, made with saffron and rose petals, which for a while was only available at the distillery.

Before I left, not only did I stock up on a few things at the gift shop, but the in-residence bartender shared her recipe for a Bloody Mary (page 221) with me, which she fortified with a shot of vermouth to smooth things out.

Three trains, a bus, and a sprint around a forest led me to Les Caves Byrrh (slightly out of breath) in Thuirs, home of the world’s largest wine aging barrel, and lots of other ones, holding wines to make their Grand Quinquina, a ruby-red quinine-based apéritif with a funny name.

There’s no beer in Byrrh and the name was just sort of a fluke. Part of their legacy is a collection of vintage posters on display at their facility. I could have looked at those all day. But had to move on, to a tasting…

In addition to my near-gaffe with menthe a l’eau, Romain said I need to include an apéritif called Zinzano in the book, which he said was très français.

Internet searches revealed nothing by that name, and it wasn’t until almost a year later, when I was touring the Byrrh distillery did I learn from my guide, who mentioned that they also make Suze and Zinzano in the adjacent facilities, that Zinzano was…Cinzano. Those were closed to the public, in spite of some insistent begging on my part.

As I traveled, wrote, and mixed up apéritifs and cocktails, my apartment soon became loaded with French liquors and spirits of all kinds, and from all places, such as Dijon, Cognac, Corsica, Gascony, the Auvergne, Poissy, Provence, and Mexico. I know, you weren’t expecting that last one, were you? But yes, there’s even a French-Mexican liqueur I discovered in my travels.

That’s just part of my collection, which I may have to donate to a bar…or do I just need to have the most amazing French spirits and cocktails party ever?

But I didn’t buy everything. My DIY streak got the best of me and I included an entire chapter of homemade infusions, liqueurs, cordials, crèmes, and rum punches in Drinking French. A genial Michelin-starred chef in Paris led me to his private cabinets holding all sorts of homemade fruits and botanicals mysteriously bobbing in various liquids.

I came away with a recipe from him, as well as a tropically-tinged rum sourced from a chocolate shop owner in Paris, whose nanny from Martinique developed for the shop. I also came up with cocktails that used the homemade infusions, like a Chocolate Old-Fashioned with a shot of homemade Crème de cacao (page 156…don’t worry, it’s not sweet), and a Spruce tip martini (page 153.)

Once the recipes and writing were done, the finished manuscript was sent to my editor. In retrospect, I probably should have accompanied it with a few bottles. After turning in my manuscript, my next task was to reconnect with all my friends who disassociated with me because I was buried deep in my book, from 6am to 6pm, seven days a week, and abandoned me because I never had time to see them. When you write, sometimes the only people you connect with are other writers because they know what you are going through and when you say, “I can’t see you for the next eight months,” they’re not offended.

Manuscripts go through a few revisions. The first is a developmental edit, where any large-scale issues are addressed. Things like “Cut this section,” or “Can you expand on this?” might be noted by your editor, as well as anything they think should be moved around in the book. (My editor once put a note next to a story I wrote about being physically aroused by a dessert, with a note that said “Too much…” in the margin next to it. Which is why writers, especially this one, needs editors.)

After you check all of their recommendations and take those into consideration, you have a few weeks to revise as you see fit. Once again, you go back into hiding. Sometimes you agree and sometimes not. Writing a book is a collaboration between you and your editor. I’ve worked with mine before so we know each other and don’t have any issues. If I disagree on something, we discuss. Sometimes she’s right, other times, I want to keep things as they are. Btw: You can thank her for sparing you reading about my turgid tale.

When that round is over, the newly polished manuscript goes to a copy editor who scrupulously goes through everything, word-by-word, making sure you’ve included all the ingredients listed in the recipe in the instructions. That you’ve used the right words and got your metric conversions correct, if you use them, as I do. (Which often makes you feel like you’re writing two different books.) Hopefully they’ve caught any typos and grammatical gaffes. This copy edit is one of the most challenging for cookbook authors as there are lots and lots of details in each recipe, and it’s easy to miss one in the flurry of testing and writing up the recipe. You don’t want to see the “1/2 cup baking powder” I once saw in a biscotti recipe in a cookbook, that I’m sure the author meant to be either “1/2 teaspoon” or “1/2 tablespoon.”

I have a great recipe tester who takes good notes, which I keep and incorporate any tips or pointers that a reader might want to have. She’s not a professional cook (she now works in technology), but did go to cooking school. I sent her the recipes in the last chapter of the book, the Snacks chapter, without any guidance because I wanted to see how they came out as written in the book, not as I told her to make them. After making the recipes, she replied with notes and photos. Fortunately all of them came back with a big thumb’s up – whew!

While I was back-and-forthing with my editor, and the copy editor, the production editor, and the proofreader, the book was sent to someone for a “cold read,” which means they hadn’t seen the book so they were looking at it with fresh eyes, the designer began working on the layout and fonts, and it was time to take the photos.

Oh, yeah. Sorry. I probably should give a little more information about the last chapter in the book, which is devoted to things to eat that go with the drinks. I got my hands on the incredible Cheese and Seed Crisps (below, page 249) made by Market Hall Foods that once I tasted at a book signing I did there, I knew I had to put in the book.

There’s a super-simple terrine; if you can make meatloaf, you can make this French terrine. For those with a little more ambition, there are crisp, buttery Mushroom and Roquefort Tartlets (page 256) that go great with a glass of white or red wine. And while cornmeal isn’t exactly a French staple, my local natural food stores sell it, which I use for Cornmeal, Bacon and Sun-dried Tomato Madeleines (page 259). I also explain what Champagne truffles (page 269) are really made with (Spoiler: It isn’t champagne), and include a recipe for those, too.

Okay…where was I? Oh, yes, the photographs. I got to work with Ed Anderson again, who spent a few weeks in the kitchen with me, and walking around Paris, while he shot My Paris Kitchen. He also took the pictures for the updated edition of The Perfect Scoop.

I was happy to have him back for Drinking French. And I’m no food stylist, so I was thrilled that George Dolece was available and willing to take on the task of making sure everything was right in place. George lived in Paris, and I’ve known him from my San Francisco days, so we had fun playing around in front of – and occasionally when Ed would let us – behind the camera. To see what things looked like.

While we were doing that, the designer at Ten Speed, Betsy Stromberg kindly answered my fifteen thousand emails about fonts for the book. Fortunately, she geeked out on fonts as much as I did and showed me mock-ups using a number of them that she’d discovered. One thing I should insert in here right now is that it’s highly unusual to let an author have any contact with the book designer. The exchanges are always done through an editor, and the author rarely is allowed any serious input. Because I have a blog, I’m used to having total control over everything and can get rather type-A about even the littlest things. And it’s hard for me to give that up. But it’s nice to collaborate with people who are more talented and experienced than I am, which is why I love working with my publisher.

Because Drinking French spotlights French traditions and culture through stories, recipes, and photos, I felt the book needed a font that squarely looked French. It needed to be not only timeless but to look a little old and vaguely nostalgic, but without being heavy-handed, cliché, or overwrought. (I know. That’s a big order to fill.) People at Ten Speed liked the one above, but I didn’t think it looked very French. Betsy (kindly, and gently) reminded me that it’s called Le François, which was a pretty strong argument against my case, and for that font. Still, I didn’t love it. I did have to eat my words in the end, as once I had seen that font, I started seeing it around Paris in signage and on menus.

I loved the font above, called Anisette, which seemed appropriate for a couple of reasons. One was that anisette is a traditional French drink, similar to pastis, a widely consumed drink in France and gets mentioned several times in the book, along with a recipe for making your own. We went back and forth for a couple of weeks, while the production deadline loomed and the book needed to be sent to the printers in order to meet the March 3rd release date. This is just one of the many notes and emails I sent about the fonts while were looking at them:

 

Yes, that was just one of many, and yes, for the record…the people at Ten Speed are still speaking to me. But I was definitely cutting it close. One of my better qualities, however, is admitting when I’m wrong. And she was right about Assiette being a little hard to read, sending me a trial to look at, below. That font does look pretty loopy even though I really like it. Some things you think might work, don’t. So it’s worth taking a look at different versions than what you think you want and not being so fixed on your opinion of things. Another one of the many things I’ve learned about life.

 

Finally, I was sent the mock-up below, using another font she found, which I agreed worked perfectly. Yay! I could feel the collective sigh of relief 6000 miles away from their office in California.

Another thing that got tweaked was the name of book. The working title was French Drinks but I was having lunch with Aaron Wehner, the publisher in New York, and before we parted, he said, “Oh…one more thing: What do you think about changing the name of the book?” I wasn’t married to French Drinks; it was just a placeholder that I had been using to refer to the book.

We just sort of rolled with it until he brought up another idea. He suggested Drinking French, which had more “action” to it, and I was fine with that. So it ultimately became this…

Drinking French

In the end, I couldn’t be happier with how the book came out; the photos, the fonts, the stories, and the recipes, all in one beautiful book. A few people at my publisher have PTDS, post-traumatic David syndrome. But I am sure a few rounds of cocktails (from Drinking French) will make us all amis again. And that’s how the book happened. I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did putting it together!


Drinking French will be out March 3rd. You can pre-order a copy from your local bookseller, or online from a variety of independent booksellers, such as Book Larder, White Whale, Kitchen Arts and Letters, Omnivore, Powell’s, Now Serving, Strand, Archestratus, and RJ Julia. Drinking French is also available on Amazon, Indiebound, and Barnes & Noble, which is also offering autographed copies. (Quantities limited.)

Global readers can order Drinking French from Book Depository, which has free international shipping.

[The opening hot chocolate picture, the chocolate frappé photo, and the café breakfast photo shown, are from the book by Ed Anderson.]

Read how the book Drinking French was made!

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68 comments

  • February 17, 2020 11:28am

    Bonjour David,
    I’ve pre-ordered your upcoming book, i don’t drink any alcool, but i’m so curious about the appetizer recipes (these madeleines are calling my name). I’m sure Drinking French will become soon one of my favorite books.

    • February 17, 2020 11:38am
      David Lebovitz

      One of the (many) discussions I had with my publisher was what to put on the cover. Although it’s not a cocktail book, per se, that image stirred up the right mood, so to speak. But there’s a whole chapter of café drinks including all those hot chocolate recipes, tisanes, lemon-based drinks, including a ginger-rosemary one, as well as the Snacks chapter. Hope you enjoy the book!

  • AWR
    February 17, 2020 12:58pm

    I have preordered and am even more excited for the book now. My daughter and I were in Paris and I saw people drinking the “menthalo” – was finally able to order at Breizh. Can’t wait to make them at home.

  • February 17, 2020 1:07pm

    David I absolutely CANNOT wait to see this book. I appreciate the long (LONG!) process of writing a book so much more now I’ve experienced it myself and I know this one is going to be magnificent! Had to laugh at the “menthalo” story – a few years back a group of friends and I were in the south of France somewhere and kept seeing ghost signs on walls for Byrrh and tried to ask many bartenders about it. They all misunderstood and thought we were asking about “bière”. Finally we got some information out of a man who pointed us in the direction of a store that sold us a bottle! Can’t wait to read more about it in Drinking French! Congrats – and enjoy the ride!

  • christine H
    February 17, 2020 1:29pm

    What a great post. Look forward to getting this book to go along with my others of yours!

  • Rachel
    February 17, 2020 1:47pm

    Thank you for sharing this story, David! As a fan of your work and someone involved in publishing, I love to hear all the details of how the book came together. I’m excited to see the book soon!

  • romayneb
    February 17, 2020 1:48pm

    This is a delightful and very amusing story about how your book came into being. I cannot wait to read, learn, experiment…and send a big, loud “Merci beaucoup David”

    American menus have featured beefalo and buffalo…I like menthalo!

  • Allyn
    February 17, 2020 1:54pm

    Your mention of cafe au lait pushed me over the edge to order this book. Now I’m on a search for the proper coffee bowls, which are a bit hard to find here in the rural south (USA). Thank goodness for the Internet.

    • February 17, 2020 2:02pm
      David Lebovitz

      You can get wonderful Pillyvut café au lait bowls in the US which aren’t inexpensive, but are quite heavy-duty. BIA Cordon Bleu also makes some nice ones, which aren’t as heavy or thick, but are less expensive.

  • Rosary Lescohier
    February 17, 2020 1:56pm

    One of your great posts. I thought I wasn’t going to buy this book only because I have so many books and it’s just time for me to taper.

    Now I have to have it. I feel like I now know it from the inside; you made it mine.

    Especially liked the font sequence!

    • February 17, 2020 2:03pm
      David Lebovitz

      The font discussion, I was sure I was pushing the poor designer over the edge ; ) but she’s a trooper and did such a great job of testing out the fonts I suggested, and sleuthing out many on her own, including the one we finally settled on, which is perfect.

    • marilyninMontreal
      February 22, 2020 3:18pm

      Any chance of letting us know the final font that was selected?

      • February 22, 2020 4:46pm
        David Lebovitz

        I don’t know the name of it but it’s the font shown on the cover of the book (at the end of the post) and in the photo/screenshot right before it, of the page that shows Chapter 1, Café Drinks.

  • February 17, 2020 1:57pm
    David Lebovitz

    AWR + romayneb: Hmmm…maybe I’ve invented something here, or at least renamed it – so don’t be surprised if in the future, someone does come out with a “menthalo” ; )

    Rachel: People don’t often realize what goes on behind the scenes, so it’s fun to show some of it. A lot of it is scrutinizing words over and over (and over and over) again. But it’s fun to see the whole thing come together…and finally get to see the book!

    Mardi: Even in France, and even if it’s on the menu, many don’t know Byrrh. It’s sort of making a comeback in the U.S. due to the cocktail boom, and the interest in French spirits, plus they came out with a new ‘vintage’ bottle that does look rather snazzy and certainly adds to the enjoyment of drinking it.

    christine H: Hope it’s happy in your collection!

  • Leah
    February 17, 2020 3:28pm

    Oh David, you have left us hanging. ;-)

    In the midst of this marvelous post, you mentioned a dessert that I think we all must try. What culinary wonder made you so, ahem, happy? I am hoping it’s a recipe in one of your other books (I have all of them except the updated reprints), or that you can share on your blog.

    Merci and À votre santé!

  • Cindy B
    February 17, 2020 3:39pm

    David, your editor nixed your “arousing” dessert essay, but I’m guessing your blog readers would love to hear about it. A post-Valentine’s gift to us?
    I too have more cookbooks than I need, but there’s always room for one more from you. Santé!

  • Paula
    February 17, 2020 4:01pm

    David, thank you for describing the writing and design process for this book. It was good to be reminded what sustained efforts are required over time to achieve success. I just added my name to the library wait list.

  • Christa
    February 17, 2020 4:07pm

    I pre-ordered mine ages and ages ago and am already excited to sip something delicious while I read. :) It’ll be a nice diversion from my own manuscript. I totally get the whole abandoning your loved ones reality that comes with writing.

  • K. Guthrie
    February 17, 2020 4:18pm

    I am looking forward to my copy of Drinking French. I will be in France after a Mediterranean cruise this spring. I plan on tasting many of your recipes as I cruise. Then, I’ll visit some great bistros and cafés in Paris.

    • February 17, 2020 6:41pm
      David Lebovitz

      There are a few lists of places in the book in Paris, such as great places to buy drinkware as well as where to taste absinthe. A number of great bars are mentioned, too. Have a good trip!

  • February 17, 2020 4:33pm

    Wow! Thank you for describing the writing and design process for this book. It was good to be reminded what sustained efforts are required over time to achieve success. I love it!

  • February 17, 2020 4:41pm

    LOVE Noilly Prat amber…on ice…so darn yummy! Love taking my clients there…and after, as you accurately point out, they must have the local oysters!

  • Amy
    February 17, 2020 4:48pm

    What a wonderful writer and storyteller you are, David. I didn’t have any intention of buying this particular book (mostly because I don’t want to find my pantry looking like yours!) but now I find I must have it. You make everything sound so good – the alcoholic, the non-alcoholic, the accompaniments. But more than anything the French way of enjoying these things. I appreciate you so much. You make me feel more human.

  • Vicki
    February 17, 2020 4:57pm

    I just ordered it for the hot chocolate recipes alone! Everything else will be a bonus.

  • Beth
    February 17, 2020 5:11pm

    Great article; making the wait sweetly anticipated! Can’t wait.

  • Claudine
    February 17, 2020 5:45pm

    Il m’intrigue déjà, ce livre…

  • February 17, 2020 5:45pm

    Super interesting! I’m surprised not to see Lillet mentioned. Although it’s made in Bordeaux and widely available here in the U.S., when I lived in the south of France I couldn’t find it anywhere, nor could I even find anyone who had heard of it. It’s a mystery to me, albeit a delicious one.

    • February 17, 2020 6:29pm
      David Lebovitz

      It’s mentioned and used in the book. I went to their place in Podensac a number of years ago and I have a few cocktail and apéritif recipes in the book that use it, as well as some alternatives for people looking for more quinine-forward versions of it, such as the one from Tempus Fugit that’s really good.

  • Di
    February 17, 2020 6:08pm

    Great job David. Can’t wait to read it. I notice there wasn’t a mention of Absinthe (or did I miss?). Perhaps I have a false (romantic) vision in my head of the late 1800’s impressionists sitting around drinking it? Was it a thing or just not a very big thing?

    • February 17, 2020 6:27pm
      David Lebovitz

      There are several drinks that have absinthe in them, in the book (I think 4?), as well as a few pages on the subject of absinthe…and there’s also a list of addresses in Paris in the book where you can go and sip absinthe if you come for a visit!

  • Margaret
    February 17, 2020 6:18pm

    It seems really odd that the French government demanded the Chartreuse recipe from the monks. Was the government planning on going into the liqueur business? :)

    • February 17, 2020 6:39pm
      David Lebovitz

      Interestingly, at one point the French government took over and nationalized the Chartreuse distillery in 1903, when the monks were expelled from France. A society was set up in France to make Chartreuse for about 25 years, and the current president of Chartreuse told me what they made was “awful.” It eventually went bankrupt and the monks got the rights back to make Chartreuse in France.

    • February 17, 2020 9:58pm

      David, Outstanding overview of the book writing process. Having co-authored six cookbooks I recognize the agony and the ecstasy. Good luck with the book. It looks beautiful. Hot Chocolate for me!

  • Dan
    February 17, 2020 6:26pm

    Fabulous read with my morning cafe. Love all the behind the scenes info. This post is a great advert for the book… I’m much more eager to pick up a copy having read it. BTW, what was the dessert that so engorged your “spirit”?

    • February 17, 2020 6:40pm
      David Lebovitz

      It was a tarte tropézienne, and I wrote about it (well, most of it…) along with the recipe in My Paris Kitchen.

  • Lili R.
    February 17, 2020 6:27pm

    I love your writing and also love that you bring stories etc. back to the bay which makes it extra special for me. Much success David.

  • Sandra
    February 17, 2020 6:49pm

    Do you reference “le diabolo menthe”, mint syrup with lemonade? I spent two months in France in 1967 (my first trip) and drank it almost every day! It’s like Proust’s madeleine for me now.

    Wishing you much success with your new book.

    • February 17, 2020 6:58pm
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, I put a number of café favorites, including that one, in the book. Also drinks with grenadine, which are equally popular, are in there too.

  • February 17, 2020 7:04pm

    What a fascinating trip through the making-of!
    I love that you have chocolat chaud on the cover.
    There is a very old wine/liqueur shop and distillery here in Carcassonne, called Cabanel. It would be paradise for you. It is mostly the same as it was a century ago, including the phone and the cash register.
    Our bar is populated by bottles with rubber rings and/or hand-written labels, offerings from dinner parties. Everybody here makes something. On the long evenings of June, the local ladies hike in the countryside and point out all the edibles for foraging. Usually plants/fruits would be recommended for a confiture, but always, always, someone would pipe up that whatever was spotted would make a good alcool.

  • February 17, 2020 7:10pm

    Such a joy to read this post -congratulations on yet another book which has all the ingredients for a bestseller.

  • Jennifer P.
    February 17, 2020 7:55pm

    Any chance you’ll do a book signing at Now Serving? I saw Brad Parsons there for “Last Call” a couple of months ago!! Great store!!!!

  • Diana
    February 17, 2020 8:14pm

    Not sure if this is permanent but I recently noticed Dubonnet has a different label that is so attractive I had to buy a bottle for myself and a friend. It is olive drab and burgundy colored with a stripped cat and very Art Deco.I loved drinking it back in the ’60’s in North Beach as well as Byrrh which I had not seen since. It seems to be available again. I can’t wait for your book to come out. The bottles alone are such a treat to view. Congratulations and I think the title change was brilliant.

    • February 17, 2020 9:03pm
      David Lebovitz

      Dubonnet is quite a challenge to find in France nowadays. It just kind of dropped off the charts, but it was/is such an iconic French apéritif. A U.S. company is making it as well, but a different version, which they recently updated (hence the new label). They say it hews closer to the original – I wrote more about that in the book, along with some recipes for using it. The price point of it in America is very attractive, too.

  • Sharon Mumby
    February 17, 2020 8:31pm

    Thanks always for the fascinating stories, monks expelled from France.. mon dieu! but now of course they continue to make their amazing liquor.
    The red framboises aperitif sounds divine.
    I really liked the Art Deco-ish font, its fun but readability is important. I used to work in graphics and I love looking at fonts. I think the Cafe Drinks page looks really great.
    Congratulations for all your work, I look forward to the book.

    • February 17, 2020 9:03pm
      David Lebovitz

      Thanks for your kind words about the font and glad you like it! : )

  • Naomi D.
    February 17, 2020 9:43pm

    Ahhh! I was NOT going to get another cookbook. Done. Ordered an autographed copy. I already have the rest of your books, why should I have an incomplete set? Now to figure out which cookbook to pass along so I’ll have room.

  • Pat Hallam
    February 17, 2020 11:51pm

    I’ve pre-ordered the book from The Book Depository (needs shipping to the UK) and can’t wait to get it. I have ‘Sweet Life in Paris’ and ‘L’Appart’ ‘ and loved them both but I confess this is my first of your food and drink/cookbooks. So looking forward to finding out the stories of these quintessentially French drinks, and not just the alcoholic ones.

  • Lenita
    February 18, 2020 1:56am

    I loved reading this post. You have a great way of telling a story and I so appreciate the explanations of what all goes into getting a book published. Congratulations on your latest effort. Yes, I have pre-ordered it.

  • Andrew B
    February 18, 2020 2:20am

    Pre-ordered your book as soon as it appeared on the Book Depository site and now am praying that early release will be authorised – and that the post flies it with haste to Brisbane, Australia. I have all your books and they have been given as gifts to my foody friends as they are practical, interesting and the recipes work. I am just now waiting for the new book so I can use that Cap Corse bottle which has been sitting in the cellar for a year or so making me feel guilty.

    • February 18, 2020 7:31am
      David Lebovitz

      Cap Corse is pretty interesting. The ingredients used it in, from citrons and walnut husks, to cocoa beans and quinine make it a nice apéritif but it’s also good used in cocktails. My friends in Burgundy always have a bottle and I’ve seen it on cocktail menus in the U.S. I got the know the owner while writing Drinking French and he’s a really nice guy, too!

  • February 18, 2020 7:41am

    Such an interesting post! Thank you for the intimate details involved in creating a “cook” book. Since I have all your books, have added this one via pre-order. Can’t wait. Congratulations!

  • Judith Lehman
    February 18, 2020 1:48pm

    I love the way reading your blog post is a bit like a conversation. You know what questions I’m going to have and answer them.
    Oddly, the title on the cover to me reads Drinking Fwench to my eyes. Very strange. Something about the vertical cutting the word.

  • February 18, 2020 2:00pm

    What a daunting and impressive process. It looks beautiful. On the contrary I’m sure your designer was thrilled to have an author who cares about what fonts they use. Chapeau!

  • Theodora Gurns
    February 18, 2020 7:00pm

    I’ve been reading books and blog since the first days. Mon dieu, you’ve become a WRITER, and such a smashing one! A fine story beautifully and simply told.

  • shell
    February 18, 2020 7:47pm

    Damn, that is some mighty fine-looking hot chocolate!

  • PF
    February 19, 2020 4:50pm

    Really looking forward to this book– I’ve been making your vin de peche recipe for the past two years and currently have three liters of vin d’orange in the cellar. BYW, there’s a typo “she was right about Assiette being a little hard to read “.

    • February 19, 2020 5:02pm
      David Lebovitz

      Glad you like those two recipes. The Peach Wine is really lovely to sip as an apéritif. Thanks for the head’s up on the gaffe (assume it was where I used “below” in the same sentence.”) Cheers!

  • Jean
    February 19, 2020 5:16pm

    I just preordered can’t wait!

  • Victoria
    February 19, 2020 5:56pm

    I had a little cup of hot chocolate at the Chocolate Museum in Barcelona which is close to the Picasso Museum. It was very thick almost like melted chocolate, so rich and good. Are French hot chocolate recipes like that too?

  • Ambica Sogal
    February 19, 2020 6:34pm

    David,
    Excited for your new book! Does Drinking French have a different European cover? Will you post it here?
    Thank you for keeping up the blog!

    • February 19, 2020 6:42pm
      David Lebovitz

      Happy to hear it : )

      The original edition is being published by Ten Speed Press (which is part of Penguin Random House.) Once a book is released, or even before, a foreign publisher decides to acquire it and do a different edition, usually in another language. So I’m not sure who will publish it elsewhere…but fingers crossed!

  • MR in NJ
    February 20, 2020 1:55am

    Could be a highly alcoholic signing tour with parties featuring your recipes come to life! Enjoy!

  • Fernanda
    February 20, 2020 6:50am

    You mentioned a Mexican Liqueur, so… did you bought Controy? Because that’s what I use when I need orange liqueur (I am Mexican) and can’t find Cointreau. Also, you should go to Tequila, the place where it’s made. Beautiful place, there are tours, tasting and you can eat birria while you’re there. It’s a win-win situation.

  • Stephanie
    February 22, 2020 12:42pm

    France, in particular Paris is the perfect example of fine dining, excellent food with finesse and spectacular drinks. They have a drink for every occasion and mood. The french press coffee is my favourite.

  • Timothy F Darling
    February 23, 2020 5:07am

    Hello I live in the states so would it make sense to get the book since we don’t really have much culture here?
    We know how to make an old faishon and martini’s and beer but don’t really have a sophisticated pub or cafe culture? Particurally in San Diego.

    • February 23, 2020 9:24am
      David Lebovitz

      I find there’s actually quite a robust culture (or thirst) for French drinks, such as hot chocolate, sparkling and still (I have homemade versions in the book, but even Trader Joe’s carries French lemonade!), and, of course, cocktails that use French spirits like Noilly Prat and Dolin dry vermouths, cognac, and others. I made sure that all the ingredients were available in the U.S., and for the one that wasn’t (Amer Picon) I found two American-made alternatives, listed in the book. You can get a “LOOK INSIDE” the book at Amazon to see if the book is for you.

  • Gavrielle
    February 25, 2020 10:40pm

    So interesting! I love the label on the preserving jar with notes on the contents’ story as well as your ingredient notes. I was going to sit this book out as I didn’t think I was much of a drinks person, but you’ve sold me again!

  • Adrian
    March 2, 2020 12:54am

    Congrats David, hope the new book is a huge success