From the very first page, Gazoz: The Art of Making Magical, Seasonal Sparkling Drinks transports you to author Benny Briga’s 260 square foot, fruity soda-slinging kiosk lined with jars of syrups and ferments in southern Tel Aviv’s lively Levinsky Market. His self-described postage stamp-sized shop nourishes tourists and locals alike, who flock to Cafe Levinsky 45 to enjoy a handcrafted, one-of-a-kind soda using Briga’s unique syrups, ferments, and fresh herbs.
Just like his shop, this book celebrates Briga’s passion and lifelong love of plants, nature, and ferments. One part love letter to nature, one part science lab, and one part recipe treasure trove, the book highlights all you need to know to make these fizzy drinks at home. Gazoz is a cornucopia of recipes and approaches alongside stunning photography that brings Briga’s storytelling and drinks to life.
Gazoz begins with Briga sharing his inspiration for opening his soda shop after closing his restaurant in Tel Aviv, returning to his lifelong connection to nature. “Many of us, including myself, live in cities,” he explains. “But rather than be cut off from nature, if we merely open our eyes to breathe, smell, touch, absorb, and observe, there is beauty to be found in plain sight: flowers, herbs, and fruit can all be picked and added to a glass of gazoz.” This connection dates back to his childhood, with memories of camping trips, picking lemons from trees, and hisTurkish Israeli mother’s homemade rose jam.
Briga goes on to share the foundations of sweet fermentation, including the process for making syrups, kombucha, and more. He also lays out the procedure for assembling a glass of gazoz that’s as beautiful as the ones he serves at his shop. He imparts his wisdom from years of fermentation, getting to know plants, and mixing flavors to help the reader understand the fundamentals. Briga’s tone and approach is warm and encouraging, enabling the reader to see the possibilities within the process, instead of sticking to a rigid formula.
The majority of the book is dedicated to gazoz recipes — dozens of them, layered with the syrups and ferments outlined earlier in the book along with fresh fruits and herbs. The recipes are divided into sections on citrus, floral, vegetable, and even milkshake gazoz recipes like Halva Gazoz, among others, each with a photo that makes you want to reach onto the page and take a sip.
Gazoz balances the joy of homemade fermentation, the love of plants, and beauty wrapped up in sodas that will make you feel equally as much of an artist as a chemist and a botanist. As Briga points out, “There are no ‘incorrect’ gazoz, only new recipes waiting to be created.”
Gazoz is co-authored with Adeena Sussman, author of Sababa.
Sara Weinreb is an herbalist, freelance writer, and business strategist based in Denver, Colorado. She is the founder of IMBY, a virtual community center for people who care about co-creating a more just and equitable future. Her writing has been published by healthyish, Forbes, USA Today, chowhound, and mindbodygreen, amongst others. When she’s not writing and shopping in the bulk section of health food stores, you can often find Sara making herbal elixirs, singing karaoke, and attempting to keep alive her growing collection of plants.