My friend David Lebovitz, OG food blogger and nine-time author, wrote a book on the iconic cocktails, aperitifs, and cafe traditions of France, including 160 recipes, that came out in March. It’s the kind of book that makes you feel like you’ve hopped on a plane to fly to Paris to spend long, leisurely afternoons-into-evenings wandering, sipping and tasting this and that, something I had the delight to do almost a year ago in person. The circumstances might be terrible, but it feels like a bit of luck that he’s created a book that allows us to recreate these tastes and the feeling, as best as possible, at home.
David wastes no time dropping us into Paris at dawn, right around the time we’d be stumbling off a too-brief-to-be-restful redeye, where the lights in cafes are flickering on, followed by the coffee machines. Baguettes are picked up in paper sacks that will be served with butter and jam. He explains that cafes are the living rooms of Paris, places where artists and writers have long worked, attracted by the heat that their homes lacked, and the wine, and remain places to meet friends outside your too-small apartment, freeing you from having to clean up before people come over. From café au lait to chocolate chaud (hot chocolate), citronnade (lemonade), into l’heure de l’apero (a time to unwind with a drink before dinner) to the craft cocktail movement of the last decade, the book is a bit of a dreamland, so perfect for those of us who desperately miss wandering right now.