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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

* DRINK BOOK OF THE MONTH! * -- Contraband Cocktails by Paul Dickson (Melville House)

1.CONTRABAND COCKTAILS (Melville House, 2015, 175 pages, ISBN 978-1-61219-458-5, $19.95 US hard covers) is by Paul Dickson, author of more  than 65 books and hundreds of articles on baseball, language and twentieth century history. His previous book for Melville was "Drunk: the drinker's dictionary" which was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest-ever collection of synonyms. This current book deals with (from the subtitle): "how America drank when it wasn't suppose to". Much has been written about US Prohibition (1920-1933) but little on the paradoxical rise of the cocktail and cocktail culture. Dickson makes a great stab at it, and no doubt he is working on a larger book. The current one provides a handy framework, well worth reading. The leading cocktails of the day are explained and given a recipe, there is a long glossary on Volstead English, and the book is closed out by an annotated bibliography (plus end notes and index). Along the way "unintended consequences" are explored. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: drinkers who like to explore the Prohibition period.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: under the "B" alone, we find the Bacardi, The Bee's Knees, Between the Sheets, Bijou Cocktail, Bloody Mary, Blue Monday, Brandy Flip, Bronx, and Brooklyn.
The downside to this book: too short, I wanted more.
The upside to this book: good account and great bibliography for more.
Quality/Price Rating: 91.

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