And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails
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One spirit, Ten cocktails, and Four Centuries of American History
And a Bottle of Rum tells the raucously entertaining story of America as seen through the bottom of a drinking glass. With a chapter for each of ten cocktails—from the grog sailors drank on the high seas in the 1700s to the mojitos of modern club hoppers—Wayne Curtis reveals that the homely spirit once distilled from the industrial waste of the exploding sugar trade has managed to infiltrate every stratum of New World society.
Curtis takes us from the taverns of the American colonies, where rum delivered both a cheap wallop and cash for the Revolution, to the plundering pirate ships off the coast of Central America, to the watering holes of pre-Castro Cuba, and to the kitsch-laden tiki bars of 1950s America. Here are sugar barons and their armies conquering the Caribbean, Paul Revere stopping for a nip during his famous ride, Prohibitionists marching against “demon rum,” Hemingway fattening his liver with Havana daiquiris, and today’s bartenders reviving old favorites like Planter’s Punch. In an age of microbrewed beer and single-malt whiskeys, rum—once the swill of the common man—has found its way into the tasting rooms of the most discriminating drinkers.
Awash with local color and wry humor, And a Bottle of Rum is an affectionate toast to this most American of liquors, a chameleon spirit that has been constantly reinvented over the centuries by tavern keepers, bootleggers, lounge lizards, and marketing gurus. Complete with cocktail recipes for would-be epicurean time-travelers, this is history at its most intoxicating.
From the Hardcover edition.
unlicensed and undocumented rumshops—of which there were surely many—Port Royal had one legal tavern for every ten male residents. In one month—July 1661—the local council granted forty licenses for new taverns and punch houses. A governor of Jamaica noted that the Spanish often wondered why the British were always suffering from extravagant illness, “until they knew the strength of their drinks, but then wondered more that they were not all dead.” All sorts of liquor could be had in Port Royal.
if the devil had possessed them, every man sitting his horse in a see-saw manner like a bunch of rags tyed upon the saddle.” Hamilton discovered on his tour what most colonists well knew: The British North American colonies had become a Republic of Rum. Starting about 1700, the colonial taste for home-brewed beer and hard cider began to fade and was displaced by an abiding thirst for stronger liquors. Rum turned up everywhere, in homes and doctor's offices, in clattering seaports and rough-edged
a bottle of inexpensive rum today. Cotton Mather, the son of Increase Mather, lamented that it took but “a penny or two”to get drunk on rum. Almost overnight, rum found its way into nearly every aspect of colonial life. A colonist would toss back a dram in the morning to shake off the night chills and to launch the day in proper form. Steeplejacks would clamber down from their labors for dinner at midday and, in the words of Rev. Elijah Kellogg, “would partake of rum, saltfish, and crackers.”
in a dream—she loaded a wagon with brickbats, bottles, bits of scrap metal, and chunks of wood, then traveled twenty-five miles from her home in Medicine Lodge to Kiowa and proceeded to lay to waste three saloons, smashing windows, glassware, and artwork. Efforts to arrest her came to nothing, since Kansas was a “dry” state. The mayor and town council needed arresting, Nation thundered, and then continued on her way unmolested. Her armaments grew less cumbersome. She adopted the hatchet as her
actually couldn't be detected on the breath just five minutes after consumption, compared to the half hour required for the dissipation of other liquors. Sales of vodka boomed, nearly rivaling gin by the late 1950s. Vodka sales weren't tracked in the 1940s, but by 1955 they had risen to 3.5 million cases. And by 1960, they had soared to 18 million cases, with Heublein's Smirnoff accounting for 30 percent of the market. Lighter Puerto Rican rum distillers wasted little time in chasing after