Spirited Reads

Campai! Prost! Salud! Cheers! Skol! Whether you choose to imbibe or abstain from inebriants altogether, reading about their rich and often controversial history is entertaining, while also providing insights into science, psychology, politics, and more!

Rum: the Epic Story of the Drink that Conquered the World by Charles A. Coulombe

  •  Spirits such as rum have had enormous impacts on slavery, economics, trade, religion, prohibition, military and even, holidays. From its history in 17th century Barbados to today, Coulombe takes you on a fun ride through the history of rum, and includes several recipes!

Gin: The Much-Lamented Death of Madam Geneva by Patrick Dillon

  •  Gin, which first was called 'Geneva' after the Dutch name for the juniper berries used to flavor the drink, revolutionized England - from the highest ranking nobleperson to the lowest of the low. With social parallels drawn similar to those explored during our own Prohibition, Dillon explores the subject with clarity and humor.

The Billionaire's Vinegar: The Mystery of the World's Most Expensive Bottle of Wine by Benjamin Wallace

  • The tale of a world gone mad with wine lust, historical infatuation and drunk on self-importance, The Billionaire's Vinegar is much more than the story of a bottle of wine. This books leads to a deeper understanding and appreciation for the rich, complex and interesting process of wine making and appreciation. Terms and situations are explained clearly, with no hint of snootiness -- which I find near miraculous given the subject. Filled with priceless charm, I laughed aloud, winced, and was kept guessing to the last chapter.

Chasing the White Dog: An Amateur Outlaw's Adventures in Moonshine by Max Watman

  •  Whether he is describing his own failed attempts at producing potable libations or the historic battle between moonshiners and the government, Watman skillfully frames his topic with humor and fact.

Boozehound: On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits by Jason Wilson

  • My favorite part of Wilson's love letter to booze is when he meets the monks who make Chartreuse, a liqueur made from a secret blend of 130 herbs, flowers and spices whose recipe dates back to an "alchemical manuscript titled 'An Elixir of Long Life' ... The full recipe is only known to two Carthusians - each of whom knows only half the formula, and both of whom have taken a vow of silence."  Complete with recipes bound to boggle your bartender, this is a fascinating look at rare refreshments.
Written by Tara on November 3, 2010

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