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The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto Hardcover – May 25, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Tin House Books; Reprint edition (May 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982504802
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982504802
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #371,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"[The Hour] has long been regarded as a classic . . . Strait is the gate and narrow is the way to Mr. DeVoto's magic cocktail kingdom."—The New York Times

"DeVoto insists in delightfully snooty language that there are only two cocktails, the slug of whisky and the perfectly-measured martini." —The New Yorker Book Bench blog

"In terms of the cult of happy hour, this may be the best tome ever written, and if you like to shake and stir at all, it is an essential volume to keep on your bar cart."—The Daily Beast

"[The Hour] is a celebration of good plain bourbon and rye, and of the martini, America's gifts to the world."—The Boston Globe

"Witty and chattily informative. . . "—The Baltimore Sun

"Bernard DeVoto's The Hour, first published in 1948, is a paean to the restorative powers of a quiet drink at the end of the working day. . . it is almost a cocktail in itself, being at once soothing and refreshing."
— Michael Dirda, The Washington Post

". . .immensely quotable, curmudgeonly but smart—think Dorothy Parker's stern eye mixed with the sass of Mark Twain, and a jigger of Christopher Hitchens thrown in for good, boozy measure."—Rachel Brown, The Atlantic

"An impassioned, funny, and timeless celebration of the best things that can be found in a bottle." —The New Yorker's Book Bench

"DeVoto was never less than eloquent, but he toed pure poetry with his description of 6 pm."
The Austin Chronicle

“Bernard DeVoto’s book is delightful for the language alone.”
Kansas City Star

"DeVoto's wit has aged like a slug of the Finest bonded bourbon."

"With spirit and wit, the book educates us in drinking etiquette and reminds us of the glories of gin, whiskey and the iconic martini. The Hour teaches us how to drink like ladies and gentlemen. Read, learn and savor, as you should!" —Zink magazine

"The Hour dwells on cocktail principles and DeVoto is a cocktail purist."—

"Filled with sly, snide with as dry as a classic martini."—

"A quirky classic. . . a thoroughly amusing polemic about that magical hour when day turns into night, work ends, and the best meal of the day is on the horizon."—

"The Hour is not simply a piece of humorous cultural patriotism either. It is a manual of witchcraft, a book of spells and observances." —Wallace Stegner, author of Angle of Repose

"If in the well and truly made martini DeVoto finds "water of life" and the blessing to the spirit, so also DeVoto's The Hour brings to its readers the breath of life and a vision of themselves made generous, indomitable and wise." —Lewis Lapham

“In an age when all that was old seems to be new again, Bernard DeVoto’s The Hour couldn’t have made a more timely reappearance. This book reminds me of one of the joys of being an adult—cocktail hour!” —Graydon Carter

"Witty…a great weekend host gift.”—

"Pride of place goes to a reissue of The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto, righteously written by the critic, Twain scholar, and eminent historian Bernard DeVoto. First published in 1948, The hour is meant to be savored in one wing-chair sitting."—

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By B. Chidichimo on July 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Seeing only one negative review, I felt it necessary to point out that this book was written in 1948, and should not be taken so seriously. take it for what it is, a classic book on cocktails from a Mark Twain Scholar who has his opinons on how drinks should be made and enjoyed. Enjoy the book and think of the days of black and white TV shows about the nuclear family when dad came home and mom mixed him a perfect Martini. This is history.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. Swenson on July 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Shaking your head over "martinis" which are mere sugary cocktails in martini glasses? Or worse yet, *gasping* in horror over belly shots? Looking forward to that first civilized sip of whiskey as you put a harried work day to an end? I highly recommend the intoxicating writing of Bernard Devoto's "The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto." Originally published in 1948, this slim volume, now in reprint (with an excellent forward by Daniel Handler), is an absolute delight.

A Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner, Mark Twain expert, writer for many years for Harper's Magazine, and a curmudgeon to the core, Devoto has crafted an elegant paean to "the violet hour," "an hour of diminishing, of slowing down, of quieting" to sip a gin martini - one of only two cocktails he countenances (the other a slug of whiskey.) Discussing his favorites, Devoto is truly rhapsodic - "art's sunburst of imagined delight becoming real" - and offers suggestions for the place ("a martini is a city dweller, a metropolitan") as well as what to hum as one mixes the first batch ("neither barbershop nor jazz, between the choir and the glee club.")

Equally quotable is his skewering of his dislikes: "Nothing can be done with people who put olives in martinis, presumably because in some desolate childhood hour someone refused them a pickle;" "Hot drinks are for people who have had skiing accidents, though it is an open question whether anyone who skis is worth giving liquor to or his life worth saving;" or on the topic of Daiquiris -"Mainly it is drunk as all sweet liquors are, in a regressive fantasy, a sad hope of regaining childhood's joy at the soda fountain."

Some question the extent to which this is satire. Bernard Devoto's wife, Avis, was a good friend of Julia Child.
Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By henri on January 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
To those of us who enjoy a retro cocktail and the finest hour of the day; this work should be on your shelf.
As bracing as a bourbon straight up with a tall glass of ice water on the side after a long day, this is a most enjoyable read.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By E. Gilligan on August 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What an entertaining read! If you enjoy a good cocktail, and the ritual of mixing a drink and sharing them with friends then you will enjoy this book. I borrowed a copy from the library, but I will definitely be buying a few copies to give as gifts this holiday season. The author has a great satirical style, but also conveys the magical transition from workday stress to fellowship with friends and loved ones with a little help from "the sovereign solvent".

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