Ask almost anyone to name a uniquely Southern drink, and bourbon and mint juleps--perhaps moonshine--are about the only beverages that come up. But what about rye whiskey, Madeira wine, and fine imported Cognac? Or peach brandy, applejack, and lager beer? At various times in the past, these drinks were as likely to be found at the Southern bar as barrel-aged bourbon and raw corn likker. The image of genteel planters in white suits sipping mint juleps on the veranda is a myth that never was--the true picture is far more complex and fascinating. Southern Spirits is the first book to tell the full story of liquor, beer, and wine in the American South. This story is deeply intertwined with the region, from the period when British colonists found themselves stranded in a new world without their native beer, to the 21st century, when classic spirits and cocktails of the pre-Prohibition South have come back into vogue. Along the way, the book challenges the stereotypes of Southern drinking culture, including the ubiquity of bourbon and the geographic definition of the South itself, and reveals how that culture has shaped the South and America as a whole.
MY REVIEW: 5 stars. Although this book doesn’t have as many pictures as I am used to seeing from Ten Speed Press, I still really enjoyed it and think this is a great book to give as a gift to anyone who likes history and alcohol. The book starts with a history of early booze in America, with the English’s attempt to recreate the wine and beer they were used to, Native American Indians’ contribution to the brew, and a history of African booze and customs that were introduced from slaves in the American South. I found the details quite interesting, such as the judges who would drink while holding court. Apparently it was such a problem that a law had to be passed to help prevent judges from becoming too drunk. The women who went into childbirth were expected to have prepared beforehand alcohol and food for the women who would be in the house attending her during labor.
Each chapter begins with a recipe, but the main point of this book isn’t to be a recipe book, which I found refreshing because there are already so many drink recipe books on the market. Although this book does have some recipes, the main point seems to be the history. I found this to be well-written and well-researched, informative and entertaining. It is nicely bound in a hardcover format, and is reasonably priced for the format and size of the book, making it affordable. Well done!
I received a copy of this book in exchange for writing a review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own.