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And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktailsby Wayne Curtis
Synopses & Reviews
One spirit, Ten cocktails, and Four Centuries of American History
And a Bottle of Rum tells the raucously entertaining story of America as seen through the bottom of a drinking glass. With a chapter for each of ten cocktails—from the grog sailors drank on the high seas in the 1700s to the mojitos of modern club hoppers—Wayne Curtis reveals that the homely spirit once distilled from the industrial waste of the exploding sugar trade has managed to infiltrate every stratum of New World society.
Curtis takes us from the taverns of the American colonies, where rum delivered both a cheap wallop and cash for the Revolution, to the plundering pirate ships off the coast of Central America, to the watering holes of pre-Castro Cuba, and to the kitsch-laden tiki bars of 1950s America. Here are sugar barons and their armies conquering the Caribbean, Paul Revere stopping for a nip during his famous ride, Prohibitionists marching against “demon rum,” Hemingway fattening his liver with Havana daiquiris, and today’s bartenders reviving old favorites like Planter’s Punch. In an age of microbrewed beer and single-malt whiskeys, rum—once the swill of the common man—has found its way into the tasting rooms of the most discriminating drinkers.
Awash with local color and wry humor, And a Bottle of Rum is an affectionate toast to this most American of liquors, a chameleon spirit that has been constantly reinvented over the centuries by tavern keepers, bootleggers, lounge lizards, and marketing gurus. Complete with cocktail recipes for would-be epicurean time-travelers, this is history at its most intoxicating.
"Like a great barroom raconteur, the author of this engaging treatise regales his audience with piquant opinions, colorful trivia, lush rhetorical turns ('[t]he first taste washes over me and brings to mind the scene in Wizard of Oz in which the black-and-white world suddenly bursts into color') and an exalted, occasionally inflated, sense of liquor's place in the greater scheme of things. A travel writer and contributing editor to Preservation, Curtis follows rum's checkered 400-year career through various incarnations, from the cheap, caustic 'kill-devil' that fortified 17th-century pirates (Blackbeard was said to enjoy a glass of flaming rum mixed with gunpowder) to today's mojitos, made from palatable, if bland, mass market rums. His profiles of rum-based cocktails (with an all-important appendix of recipes) serve as starting points for excursions on such topics as slavery in the West Indies, the temperance movement, Ernest Hemingway's epic daiquiri binges and the rise and fall of the tiki bar. Curtis's grander pronouncements ('Rum embodies America's laissez-faire attitude: It is whatever it wants to be')are true only in the groggiest sense, but readers who come along on this charming barhop through cultural history will toast them nonetheless. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Through the prism of ten distinctive rum cocktails, dating from the mid-17th century to the present day, this text tells the history of North America and the Caribbean.
About the Author
Wayne Curtis is a contributing editor to Preservation magazine, and his stories on travel, architecture, and history have appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, The American Scholar, and American Heritage. In 2002 Curtis was named Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year by the Society of American Travel Writers. He lives in Maine. For more information about rum or the author, visit RepublicOfRum.com.
From the Hardcover edition.
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