Imbibers’ Summer Reading

Cocktail Books LibrayIt’s summer, the workload lighter and the chance to have an afternoon off to relax with a book is significantly higher. Alcohol is a tasty subject and here are five books that serve up a dash of drink history. They are fun, interesting and will take you from the pirates of the Caribbean Islands to the notorious prohibition era. Mix yourself a drink and escape into the sizzling history of alcohol.

Book 1

The Cocktail – The Influences Of Spirits On The American Psyche

Combining history, recipes, ruminations, and a few nods to the occult, the author exposes the cocktail as a ritual, a religious ceremony that satisfies the modern mind and soul. With the current resurgence of the cocktail, Lanza’s spirited celebration of those who inspired it will remind us why ‘Cocktail Time’ was considered Heaven on Earth. By Joseph Lanza 1995 – Picador USA publisher – 168 pages.

Book 2

A History Of The World In 6 Glasses

The book opens a window to the past with this original and illuminating vision of world history through the lens of six beverages: beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola, that have had a powerful influence on a surprising range of human history. The author makes fascinating forays into the byways of western culture: Why were the ancient Egyptians buried with beer? How did wine help spread ancient Greek culture abroad? How did rum grog help the British navy defeat Napoléon? and how Coca-Cola become the poster product for globalization before the term was even coined? After reading this clever and enlightening book, you may never look at your favourite drink the same way again. By Tom Standage 2005 – Anchor Canada – 311 pages.

Book 3

The Martini

With its crystalline perfection, the Martini was, and still is, more than just a cocktail. This book celebrates the drink’s renaissance with a colourful look at this intoxicating symbol of the American Dream. Along with the fascinating text is an array of over 150 colour and black-and-white images from movies, cartoons, advertisements, restaurants, and contemporary art. All you ever wanted to know about this iconic drink and how deeply this cocktail permeates every aspect of American culture from literature to politics and high society. By Barnaby Conrad III  1995 – Chronicle Books – 132 pages.

Book 4

Rum – The Epic Story Of The Drink That Conquered The World

The very mention of the word rum summons romantic visions of high spirits, adventure, skullduggery, and pirates roaming the seven seas. Americans jitter-bugged to ‘Rum and Coca-Cola” in the forties; modern Manhattanites down the latest Bacardi cocktail in the city’s trendiest bars today. The book goes on to divulge the little-known but lively role rum played in the American Revolution. Here is the uncorked truth about the beverage that altered world history, from colonialism to post-colonialism, slavery to liberation, Victorian anti-drinking campaigns to unprecedented popularity today. By Charles A. Coulombe 2004 – Citadel Press – 296 pages.

Book 5

Drink – A Social History Of America

An incisive, witty history of the American people and their turbulent affair with alcohol. With rum and muskets the American colonist declared their independence. In this shrewd cultural history of drink in America, Andrew Barr considers the significance of alcohol historically and socially in the evolution of a nation born of a rebel spirit which the colonists preferred to their royally taxed British tea. It examines the social influences that determine what, where, and why we choose to drink. By Andrew Barr 1999 – Bantam Publisher – 400 pages  (excluding references).

All the books are available on