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And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails [Kindle Edition]

Wayne Curtis
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.95
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

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.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Like a great barroom raconteur, the author of this engaging treatise regales his audience with piquant opinions, colorful trivia, lush rhetorical turns ("[t]he first taste washes over me and brings to mind the scene in Wizard of Oz in which the black-and-white world suddenly bursts into color") and an exalted, occasionally inflated, sense of liquor's place in the greater scheme of things. A travel writer and contributing editor to Preservation, Curtis follows rum's checkered 400-year career through various incarnations, from the cheap, caustic "kill-devil" that fortified 17th-century pirates (Blackbeard was said to enjoy a glass of flaming rum mixed with gunpowder) to today's mojitos, made from palatable, if bland, mass market rums. His profiles of rum-based cocktails (with an all-important appendix of recipes) serve as starting points for excursions on such topics as slavery in the West Indies, the temperance movement, Ernest Hemingway's epic daiquiri binges and the rise and fall of the tiki bar. Curtis's grander pronouncements ("Rum embodies America's laissez-faire attitude: It is whatever it wants to be")are true only in the groggiest sense, but readers who come along on this charming barhop through cultural history will toast them nonetheless. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Toasts to And a Bottle of Rum

And a Bottle of Rum is a fascinating tale of cultural metamorphosis, tracing rum’s remarkable journey from colonial rotgut to SoHo cocktail. A book with as many revelations about American history as about this archetypally American drink.” —Jack Turner, author of Spice: The History of a Temptation

“History never tasted so good. What Herbert Asbury did for the gangs of New York, Wayne Curtis does for rum: The profiteers who traded it, the pirates who raided it, the underclass who guzzled it, the mixologists who exalted it, and the corporations who homogenized it—Curtis tells their tale with style and sweep in a tour de force of social history, urban anthropology, and cocktail ‘alcohology.’ A delight from first sip to last.” —Jeff Berry, author of Beachbum Berry’s Grog Log, Intoxica!, and Taboo Table

And a Bottle of Rum reveals the facts behind rum’s colorful history while telling a great story of rebellion and rumbustion!” —Dale DeGroff, author of The Craft of the Cocktail

“Wayne Curtis breaks fascinating new ground in this very palatable history of the world-through-rum-colored glasses. The writing shows what makes modern journalism so great: clean, succinct, inclusive smoothness—not unlike great rum—and Curtis is a virtuoso at it.” —Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh, author of Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 435 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (February 4, 2009)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001RLTFE8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,835 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars yo ho ho... November 13, 2006
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.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yum August 4, 2006
If you, like me, feel your eyelids droop at the words "history book," you, like me, are probably remembering the tepid tomes the nuns made you read in seventh grade. Well, this is NOT your grade-school teacher's history book. This is a lively, slightly drunken account that begins with the madness and mayhem that accompanied the settling of the New World, and from there roams far and wide through many lives and times. And it goes down real smooooth. It's full of stories, stories, stories, and boy, can this guy WRITE. Thank you, Wayne Curtis, for making me love history again.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Inspired Pub Crawl August 4, 2006
What a pleasure to roam the shipping lanes of history with this wry storyteller! From rum's inception, when an industrial waste (molasses) trysted with the human desire to be wasted, this spirit has led an adventurer's life. In the beginning, in a Caribbean fouled with pirates, sugar and slavery, rum's fermentation was sometimes jump-started with a bolus of manure or an animal carcass. In the end, Guatemala is turning out a 23-year-old rum that tastes like moonlit waves and rolls you for $50. In between, rum enjoyed a bizarre and frequently hilarious career involving the English Navy, an astronomical number of limes, Paul Revere, hot pokers, Newfoundland salt cod, Earnest Hemingway and Fidel Castro, and the geographically-challenged Tiki-bar phenomenon. For a surprising night-cap, rum finds its way back to... well, some place it was before, which I also found surprising. To my even-further surprise, the ten cocktails mentioned in the subtitle really do chart the course of rum's New World bender. The additional cocktails in the appendix have me scribbling a shopping list: Jamaican dark, a Cuban light, and a Barbados medium, seventy-five limes, falernum, Thai basil, a bottle of that $50 Zacapa...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now this is rum! May 27, 2008
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Made me appreciate good rum.
Super interesting. Made me appreciate rum so much more. Great anecdotal history lessons throughout the book. Truly an enjoyable read.
Published 1 month ago by beach01810
5.0 out of 5 stars Great gift add on
Interesting overview of hostory through some popular cocktails. A good addition to a liquor-themed gift.
Published 2 months ago by AmandaR
5.0 out of 5 stars great, fun read - especially if you're into liquors, history,...
really enjoyed this book - i recommend it!
Published 4 months ago by Urban P.
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just for Rummys
It is actually a fun book filled with historical facts.
Published 6 months ago by Gitana725
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read!
Fantastic book for people who share a love of history and alcohol! Very enjoyable and satisfying.
Published 6 months ago by Brian Looney
5.0 out of 5 stars Rum. Pirates. History. What could go wrong?
I love rum. And so, I like to know more about the history of what I am drinking. Read a bit so far. Well-written. Amusing. Detailed. Read more
Published 6 months ago by J. Newt
4.0 out of 5 stars A very pleasant read
A very enjoyable book, though for me, it started a little slowly. But after a chapter or two, I was hooked. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Keith A. Weaver
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique rumological history
Long after rum went out of fashion in America it was an established metaphor for distilled spirits. Demon rum was referenced by the temperance league long after it practically... Read more
Published 9 months ago by R. Startzman
5.0 out of 5 stars History, on the rocks
Who knew that my favorite drink had such a storied past? A select history with a focus on the drinking habits of our fore fathers and mothers. Very entertaining and informative.
Published 10 months ago by Dana Katz
5.0 out of 5 stars Husband is happy
I bought this book for my husband as a small Valentine's Day present. He is a huge lover of rum and anything having to do with the ocean or the beach. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Jaylinn
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More About the Author

Wayne Curtis is the author of "The Last Great Walk" (Sept 2014), an account of Edward Payson Weston's walk from New York to San Francisco in 1909. (He averaged 40 miles per day and was 70 years old when he did it.) It's also about what's been lost in the century since we've essentially given up walking in favor of traveling about in upholstered boxes attached to a series of small explosions.

Curtis is a contributing editor at The Atlantic magazine, where he writes about travel, architecture, cocktails, and American pop culture. He's also written for numerous other publications, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Smithsonian, American Scholar, Saveur, Men's Journal, Yankee, American Archeology, and the radio show This American Life. He's the author of "And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in 10 Cocktails" (Crown, 2006), and 2002 he was named Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year. He's lived in New Orleans since 2006.

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