Book Review: Do It The French Way by Daniel Gaujac
By Iyana Jones
Author Daniel Gaujac aims to educate audiences on French influence on the world’s greatest cocktails in his latest book Do It the French Way. Full of seductive editorial style shots of France’s most legendary drinks such as Pernod Absinthe and Suze, Do It the French Way delves into the secrets behind creating popular aperitifs.
Photographer Simon Upton manages to turn the Thuir distillery, the historic birthplace of French drinks, from an ancient artifact into a mysterious residence that once held most of the French’s secrets. The distillery is the keeper of age old secrets, with hidden doors and access to rarely seen rooms. Full of books that hold confidential materials that date back to the bar’s conception in 1751, we are kept wondering what other classified information this bar has kept. Upton uses voyeurism in his shots, peeking through open doors and around corners to reveal what is inside, a reminder of how rare a look inside this momentous distillery is.
Not only does Upton transform the distillery, but he also captures the distinct qualities of each liquor by photographing each one in a different manner. He portrays Suze, a drink known for it’s pleasant bitterness and potency, as a focal point, which it usually is when used in cocktails. Vibrant fruit are scattered around the table, but the towering Suze is still the center of attention as the solitary dark figure surrounded by color. This deliberate arrangement familiarizes readers with the taste of these drinks, just as well as an actual sip.
The final portion of the book explores if the French influence on cocktails is still relevant to today’s bartenders and alcohol consumers. Twenty-five of the world’s most famous bartenders were asked five questions about their own personal process with creating cocktails and how France’s most popular drinks are still a part of the foundation for their own beverages. Although these drinks seem historic and distant, they evolve into cherished relics that we can better appreciate for their significance.
Although the book is excellent in regards to creative photography, it lacks in creating a personal connection with its audience. The educational opportunity is missed because of its density and abundance of characters and dates. Rather than flip through the textbook-like introduction, it’s more intriguing to appreciate the beauty of the photos and not on learning about French history. Do It the French Way guides its audience into understanding how the French were able to master the art creating innovative and complex cocktails. Remember to thank the French next time you’re sipping on your favorite aperitif.