Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol

From Sumerian times to Rome to the present day, "Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol" by Ian Gately discusses the development of alcohol and its cultural treatments by civilizations through the centuries. The book tells the story of the explosion of new types of alcohol, in addition to beer and wine, beginning in the 1700s, and how some popular liquors were either discovered by accident or by techniques used to preserve other beverages during shipping. Also of note is the discussion of Prohibition, which, among other things, led to the development of the mixed drink, used to mask the unappealing flavor of illegal homemade alcohol during that period. For another interesting topic, the book discusses the impact of new technologies on the business, particularly the invention of cans and refrigeration, which led to the decline of the neighborhood tavern, when customers could buy and store their own alcohol at home. For those that are looking for the full history of alcohol from the beginning, this is it.

--Michael B., Jamestown Bluffs Branch

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