Cheers! Books About the History of Women and Alcohol

In honor of Women’s History Month, and because we are running two related programs this month (details below), we wanted to highlight women’s role in the production and consumption of alcohol. Below are several books that will make great reads this month!

Want to learn more about the history of women and alcohol? Check out more books on our reading list here.

Girly Drinks: A World History of Women and Alcohol by Mallory O’Meara 
To get us started, let’s dive into Girly Drinks, a book that chronicles the history of alcohol, why drinking is considered a gendered act, and why bars have long been considered “places for men” when, without women, they might not even exist. This is the history of the female distillers, drinkers, and brewers who played an important role in the creation and consumption of alcohol, going all the way back to ancient Sumeria and into present day.

Love this book and want to know more? Join us Friday, March 25 at 6:00pm for a virtual Women’s History Month Panel that will discuss the history of women and alcohol with: author Mallory O’Meara; Chantel Columna, Co-Founder and General Manager of Novel Strand Brewing Company in Denver; Nicki McTague, CEO of Infinite Monkey Theorem, a Denver-based winery; and Dawn Richardson of Rising Sun Distillery. 

Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol by Ann Dowsett Johnston
This book discusses the other side of women in alcohol: the skyrocketing rates of alcohol overuse among women. Touching on topics such as DUIs, “drunkorexia” (choosing to limit eating to consume great quantities of alcohol), and health problems connected to drinking, Johnston examines how the alcohol industry itself is exacerbating these problems by exclusively targeting women with marketing strategies and products. There are psychological, social, and industrial factors that have contributed to this rise, and Drink examines them all with in-depth research, interviews, and the story of her own struggle with alcohol.

The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It by Tilar J. Mazzeo
The biography of Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin, a visionary young widow who built a champagne empire, became a legend, and showed the world how to live with style, The Widow Clicquot is a fascinating journey through the process of making champagne into what it is today. 

A Short History of Drunkenness: How, Why, Where, and When Humankind Has Gotten Merry from the Stone Age to the Present by Mark Forsyth
When alcohol is involved, drunkenness is also surely involved! Almost every culture on Earth has drink, but in every age and in every place, drunkenness is a little bit different. It can be religious, sexual, for kings or for peasants, an offering to the ancestors, or merely a way to mark the end of a day’s work. A Short History of Drunkenness traces humankind’s relationship with booze, starting with our primate ancestors and going all the way through to the US Prohibition.

Movers and Shakers: Advice from the Women Changing the Alcohol Industry by Hope Ewing
Movers and Shakers contains industry advice and tips, beverage history lesson, personal anecdotes, and a call to action. It is a feminist look at the professional challenges women face and how they are paving the way by creating a more inclusive and sustainable world full of delicious drinks. Here, author Ewing seeks out the women leaders, mentors, and trailblazers of the alcohol industry and asks them to share their stories and business advice and insight.

Give Me Liberty and Give Me A Drink!: 65 Cocktails to Protest America’s Most Outlandish Alcohol Laws by C. Jarrett Dieterle
While cocktail recipe books are fun, Give Me Liberty and Give Me A Drink! pairs recipes with history to bring you facts about some of the outdated, bizarre, and laughable laws that still exist today, 89 years after Prohibition ended. For example: in New Mexico, $1 margaritas are illegal; in Utah, cocktails must be mixed behind a barrier called the “Zion curtain;” and happy hour in Massachusetts has been banned since 1984.

Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol by Holly Whitaker 
No list about women and alcohol would be complete without a treatise on not drinking alcohol. That is exactly what Whitaker provides here: a book about our drinking-obsessed world, a world in which no one ever seems to question alcohol’s ubiquity and instead only questions why it is that someone doesn’t drink. Although our society is obsessed with health and wellness, we uphold alcohol as some kind of magic elixir – which it is anything but. Fueled by feminism, Whitaker, both honest and witty, looks at drinking culture and provides a road map to cutting out alcohol in order to live our best lives.

Check out more reads on this subject here.

And join us for the virtual program, Lesbian Bar Project Documentary Screening and Q&A: Friday, March 11 at 3:00pm: The Lesbian Bar Project aims to celebrate, support, and preserve the few remaining lesbian bars in the US. Join us for a virtual program that includes a 20 minute screening of the documentary detailing the project, followed by a Q&A with the directors and founders, Erica Rose and Elina Street.

Check out these titles, and join us virtually for these two great programs celebrating Women's History Month!

Written by erins on March 6, 2022

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