Spirited reads!
February 2, 2016 6:28 AM   Subscribe

As part research and a way to increase my knowledge, what books would you recommend about alcohol?

Specifically, history, innovation, oddities...I want to be armed with facts and points of interest if discussing a certain type of booze on my future podcast (it's coming, I swear!).

I don't mind dry-ish text, but something that will capture and engage interest is key. For example, I finished this book not too long ago and it was a delight to read.
posted by Kitteh to Media & Arts (24 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Oh no, you've already covered gin! I was going to recommend Craze: Gin and Debauchery in an Age of Reason, by Jessica Warner!
posted by mittens at 6:31 AM on February 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: David Wondrich's Imbibe and Punch are two delightful books with history, stories and recipes. While we are on gin, there is this additional book on the gin craze.
posted by munchingzombie at 6:36 AM on February 2, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to "Professor" Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar Featuring the ... Drinks, and a Selection of New Drinks
posted by Seamus at 6:37 AM on February 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Since everyone's mentioned Wondrich I'll bring up Curtis: And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails.
posted by komara at 6:40 AM on February 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: In case I overlooked it: books about craft beer are also very welcome.
posted by Kitteh at 6:55 AM on February 2, 2016

Pete Hamill's "A Drinking Life" is a very interesting memoir. It' s not really a conventional recovery book, although it ends with the author gettng sober.
posted by thelonius at 7:03 AM on February 2, 2016

Best answer: For fun facts you can't go wrong with the Drunken Botanist (on the plants that go into alcohol).
posted by AFII at 7:04 AM on February 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Proof: The Science of Booze by Adam Rogers.
posted by slkinsey at 7:07 AM on February 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do, talks about prohibition. I'd also recommend Ken Burns's Documentary, Prohibition (on Netflix). It shows how Saloons really were terrible and alcoholism ruined families. It also shows how persuasive the argument was for temperance. So I double dog recommend that.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:09 AM on February 2, 2016

Best answer: Iain Banks wrote a book about Scotch whisky, Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram. It's also more or less a travelogue about Scotland and himself, but he does visit a lot of distilleries and tell you about them.
posted by zadcat at 7:15 AM on February 2, 2016 [5 favorites]

Best answer: You've read Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher and the Oxford Companion to Beer by Garrett Oliver, yes? Also, Mirella Amato's Beerology.
posted by bibliogrrl at 7:26 AM on February 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition by W. J. Rorabaugh covers the history of American alcohol from 1790 - 1830, which was a formative period influencing everything after that (temperance, trade, prohibition, etc.). Basically the early Republic was awash in cheap alcohol. The average American drank about five gallons of spirits a year (and when we realize that babies and slaves were included in that, that means lots of people were drinking a whole lot more). But why was that? and what did it do for us?

It's an amusing book rather than a depressing one, with many anecdotes of "HOLY SHIT the Founding Fathers were just drunk all the time weren't they."
posted by Hypatia at 7:40 AM on February 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Liquid Intelligence by Dave Arnold. He is funny and smart as hell, and he’s really excited to explain to you the chemistry involved in mixing drinks. Some historical detail, but mostly it's science. He gives good general tips on traditional cocktail-making as well as, like, how to clean the uranium and whatnot out of a centrifuge if you buy a used one on eBay so you can make clarified lime juice instead. Really a great read.
posted by miles per flower at 7:42 AM on February 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: IMO, Tasting Whiskey is the best book on whisk(e)y ever written. Tons of history, information on styles and types, tasting guides. It'll bring you from zero to thorough whiskey knowledge, and you'll have fun doing it.

I'd actually recommend against Raw Spirit; it's a great book if you're looking for a Scottish travelogue or Iain Banks's memoirs and rememberances, but as a book about scotch it's rather thin.
posted by Itaxpica at 7:54 AM on February 2, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Boozehound: On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits, by Jason Wilson is a great read. Highly, highly recommend.
posted by General Malaise at 8:11 AM on February 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My friend Adam Krakowski wrote a great book called Vermont Beer:: History of a Brewing Revolution
posted by terrapin at 9:13 AM on February 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All is great, and has recipes for making your own, plus drink and food recipes using bitters.
posted by bedhead at 9:58 AM on February 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Itaxpica is quite right. I should not have recommended the Banks book in this thread.
posted by zadcat at 11:28 AM on February 2, 2016

Best answer: On the craft beer front, I can thoroughly recommend Three Sheets to the Wind by Pete Brown, an informative, engaging and jocular book that compares and contrasts the different beer styles and cultures in various countries. It even stands up to rereading.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 3:07 PM on February 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ambitious Brew, by Maureen Ogle. A history of American beer.
A History of the World in 6 Glasses, by Tom Standage. Covers beer, wine, and spirits as well as coffee, tea, and cola.
The Beer Bible, by Jeff Alworth. A great dive into beer styles, their origins, and their surrounding cultures.
The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique, by Jeffrey Morgenthaler. The how and why of mixing drinks, rather than a compendium of recipes.
posted by HumuloneRanger at 8:44 PM on February 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Fine Art Of Mixing Drinks is the grandfather of all the above suggestions.
posted by Brittanie at 2:39 AM on February 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent is a great read.
posted by Dr. Memory at 9:57 PM on February 3, 2016

Best answer: The Year of Drinking Adventurously by Jeff Cioletti.
posted by Gortuk at 12:28 PM on February 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

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