When in France, mornings begin with a café au lait, evenings may close with a cognac or chocolate liqueur, and there are plenty of beverage prospects along the way: a refreshing lunchtime citron pressé, a Pastis or Kir Royal during the late afternoon, or a nighttime cocktail made with French ingredients like dry vermouth, Grand Marnier, or Lillet.
In "Drinking French," the witty, comprehensive overview of French drinking culture, New York Times bestselling author David Lebovitz serves up 160 recipes for quintessential café favorites, classic and contemporary apértifs and cocktails, and homemade liqueurs and infusions. Each recipe is accompanied by Lebovitz's astute observations about life in France, as well as photographs taken in Paris and beyond.
Since the French can't imagine drinking without food, David includes crispy, savory snacks to enjoy alongside. Warm, cheesy gougères go well with Pineau des Charentesor Kir; Za'atar Martinis taste even better with olives heated with olive oil, orange zest, and herbs; and the spicy, glazed nut and pretzel mix works with everything from the RinQuinQuin Rickeys to Americanos.
At a flea market in the South of France, I came across a book from the 1970s with a racy cover depicting two brazenly undressed lovers locked in an intimate embrace—while managing to look straight at the camera. When I rejoined my friends at a café (I tend to wander off at flea markets so I can do my scavenging without interruption), I told them about the book I had found, which was called "Les Embrassadeurs." The title was a take on the word ambassadeurs, but because of the protagonists' saucy relationship, they had been dubbed embrassadeurs, a liaison of the words embrassades (hugs and kisses) and ambassadors.
My friends roared with laughter at the corny name and told me that I absolutely had to go back and buy the book. Of course I did, like a dope, and wasquite red-faced when the vendor made a big deal of announcing to everyone within earshot that he had finally found someone to buy the book, drawing stares from everyone, who wanted to see who'd ended up buying it. (Well, that's one village in France I won't be going back to.)
I never did read the book, but when the grisaille (gray skies) of Paris in the winter make me long for a trip south where I can be embraced by the warm sun, this liberating libation is the next best thing. - David
Makes 1 Serving
- 2 1⁄2 ounces (75ml) RinQuinQuin
- 1 1⁄2 ounces (45ml) gin
- 3 ounces (90ml) freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
- 1⁄2 ounce (15ml) freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 or 2 dashes lavender bitters
- Sprig of fresh lavender or rosemary, for garnish
Add the RinQuinQuin, gin, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and lavender bitters to a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake until well chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with the lavender.