Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (June 5, 2007)
Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8 inches
Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
Best Sellers Rank: #39,795 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) #25 in Books > History > Americas > Caribbean & West Indies #57 in Books > Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Cooking Education & Reference > History #67 in Books > Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Beverages & Wine > Wine & Spirits > Spirits
I am not so much a sucker for history books as I am a sucker for very focused, almsot gimmicky, history books. Andrew Carr's _Drink: A Social History of America_ is a similarly gimmicky history book that I (pun coming) ate and drank up furiously, and Wayne Curtis has provided an equally capturing read with _And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails_.This book comes from the level perspective of a connoseur of rum, one who enjoys the depth of the drink, which includes the history of it and the stories behind it. Besides the unsolveable questions of who ever first invented something like the mai tai or who even first made the first batch of the molasses-based spirit, Wayne Curtis delves through a liquor that has been both a savior and a demon for America.And that is the main point of this book that I truly treasure--for nowadays, rum is considered a very tropical drink, something more at home in a pina colada or a tiki bar than something attached to the dirty farmland of the New World, but Curtis reattaches rum to its colonial identity and heritage, along with solid associations with pirates and seafarers. Rather than being a light, sit-back-on-the-beach drink, Curtis attaches rum back to flogging and piracy and the Revolutionary War. And he does this in each chapter through identifying a particular way of serving rum (the mojito, the flip, or just plain grog) to examine how that drink played its role in history.
And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails is really all about rum. Should be obvious from the title, but some of these narrow-focus histories are all about social context and compelling commentary. And a Bottle of Rum has these things, but when all is said and done, reading this book is more like drinking a fine rum than reading an ordinary history. Curtis writes with the practiced ease of someone who's thoroughly familiar with his subject, and who doesn't have anything to prove, although at one point it seemed clear to me that he was aiming to undo some of the exaggeration Ian Williams presented in his earlier book. But there is no pervasive attitude of having to prove that rum was one thing or another; Curtis tells it like it is.For such a short book, the reader never feels like he's missing something; if I only had this book about rum, I think that'd be enough. The title is misleading; Curtis doesn't stop at ten simple cocktails - he gives you the whole run that rum has made from its haziest origins to present upscale rum bars. The author appends a modest list of easy-to-find and enjoyable rums; the list is not comprehensive, but would serve as a good jumping point for those wishing to try different styles. He also includes some of his favorite recipes besides the ten featured in the core chapters. Technically, if you don't consider punch or grog to be a cocktail, it's only six, since Chapter 6 is about Prohibition and features a recipe for the nonalcoholic Prune Water, and the first chapter is simply entitled Kill-Devil. This is not a nitpick; no chapter is out of place here.
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