Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History

Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History

Mark Spivak

Language: English

Pages: 256

ISBN: 0762779268

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Over the past decade, the cocktail culture has exploded across America. Bars and lounges have become the Broadway theater of mixology, with bartenders resurrecting classic pre-Prohibition cocktails and dazzling customers with their creations. Consumers, in turn, are recreating these cocktails at home, and spending unprecedented amounts on upscale bar gear. With more and more emphasis on quality ingredients, the number of small-batch spirits is increasing all the time, and craft distilling has become popular as an offshoot of the locavore movement. In Iconic Spirits, Mark Spivak, wine and spirits guru and host of the NPR show Uncorked!, explores the history and cultural significance of twelve iconic spirits and reveals how moonshine invented NASCAR; how gin almost toppled the British Empire; how a drink that tastes like castor oil flavored with tree bark became one of the sexiest things on earth; how cognac became the "it" drink of hip-hop culture, and much more. To top it all off, Spivak then offers the most tantalizing cocktail recipes from the era in which each spirit was invented.





















social phenomenon in many parts of the United States, springing up in different locales and among various social groups, but there are dangers. Eat ten limes under the influence of miraculin, and they will taste like ten of the world’s most luscious oranges. Thirsty? Chug a pint of vinegar, and it will seem sweeter than Sprite. It may currently be a fad for bored college students or suburbanites, but it raises some interesting questions. Could there be a miraculin to counteract bitterness, to

would not recover for another fifty years. Children were the collateral damage of the Gin Craze, and an estimated 9,000 of them died in 1750 alone—not counting miscarriages, abortions, or stillbirths to drunken mothers. The leading writers and thinkers of the day began a campaign against gin. The novelist Daniel Defoe, who had supported the government’s encouragement of the gin trade early on, now spoke out vehemently against it. Henry Fielding joined the fray. In a 1751 pamphlet titled “An

the 1890s and early twentieth century, or at least nothing else that was available in large quantities. Scotch Whisky has never appealed to my palate. However, being a trained wine taster who has reviewed wine professionally for the past two decades, I decided to try an experiment one day. I opened fresh bottles of Dewar’s 12 and Cardhu, poured them into tasting glasses, and recorded my impressions. Created by retired master blender Tom Aitken, Dewar’s 12 is a blend of various grain and malt

two worlds. Single malts subscribe to the notion of terroir: The flavors of the spirit vary from region to region and even from distillery to distillery, depending on factors such as soil, climate, and the quality of local water. They present a complex range of styles for the consumer to master and offer a sense of connoisseurship on various levels. In the universe of single malts, there are vigorous debates concerning the correct type of glassware to use, not to mention arguments over methods of

raised chickens and vegetables on the family farm. According to legend, his mother sewed burlap bags together because they could not afford sheets. He attended Norwich Free Academy on a scholarship paid for by the town. Frank was an entrepreneur from his youth. Montville is close to Mohegan Rock, one of the largest natural formations in the country and a popular tourist attraction. At the age of twelve, he constructed a ladder and charged sightseers a dime to climb to the top of the rock, where

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