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Straight up or on the Rocks: The Story of the American Cocktail

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
America ``expresses its character in a thousand seemingly trivial but potent messages. . . . One of them is the cocktail.'' Here Grimes, a New York Times reporter, considers the meaning of the message conveyed to Americans by ``flashy, vulgar drink.'' His brief and witty history, with recipes (e.g., rhubarb highball; ``the unexpected''), traces popular taste from the Mayflower (which carried beer kegs, among other provisions) to the ``rococo'' fare of the genre's heyday at the turn of the century, and continues to the contemporary era, considering the likes and dislikes of yuppies (``Fussy and particular, the yuppie turned out to have a whim of iron''). This is a suitably sparkling introductory overview, not a full history with footnotes; Grimes entertains as he informs, with the flair and the good manners of a happy-hour host. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Apr.)
Ray Olson
Talk about your rearguard actions! Despite those waves of the future in American potation, 12-step teetotalitarianism and single-malt simplicity, Grimes wants to revive the cocktail, of all things. He liberally sprinkles his chronicle of American tippling with recipes. An awful lot of them, including several that Grimes approves of, sound, well, pretty awful. But they're all amusing and hardly the only or most amusing things in a book abounding in provocative curiosities. Such as that citizens of the early republic consumed liquor at "triple" today's rate (John Adams downed a tankard of cider every morning before breakfast!). Such as that Gilded Age bartenders were pillars of their communities, even celebrities, which men expected to make upwards of 271 different cocktails from memory well might be. Such as that FDR liked a teaspoon of olive brine in his martini (eeew, gross!), and Stalin was gent enough to say only that it was "cold on the stomach." You don't need to care about cocktails or drinking at all to pleasurably knock back this delicious little treatise. Oh, yes--recipes (more) appended.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671767242
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/1/1993
  • Pages: 193

Table of Contents

Preface 15
1 The Martini 25
2 Conceived in Liberty 36
3 First Stirrings 49
4 Swinging Doors 67
5 The Iceman Cometh 76
6 The Golden Age Classics 84
7 The Jazz Age 93
8 Reconstruction 107
9 Vodka Uber Alles 118
Postscript 125
Recipes 133
Whiskey Cocktails 135
Brandy Cocktails 143
Gin Drinks 146
Rum Drinks 156
Champagne Drinks 162
Vodka Drinks 165
Tequila Drinks 169
Wine and Vermouth Cocktails 171
Miscellaneous 173
Nonalcoholic Drinks 176
Bibliography 179
Index 184
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