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Fix the Pumps Paperback – May 1, 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Read it not just for those revelatory recipes, but for its provocative take on their cultural, economic, and medical impact on generations gone by. You'll never think of soda fountains as wholesome Happy Days nostalgia again. --Jeff "Beachbum" Berry

Time travel never tasted so good. --Craig "Dr. Bamboo" Mrusek

Reading Fix the Pumps is like finding the key for that painted-over door in the corner you've never really paid any attention to, unlocking it and revealing a whole furnished room you never even realized was there. --David Wondrich author of Imbibe!

From the Back Cover

Fix the Pumps tells the real history of the soda fountain, starting with its invention, through its golden era of creativity and its dependence on patent medicine and narcotics. The history of the soda fountain is as vibrant as any other period in American history.Fix the Pumps documents a wealth of information on soda fountain techniques, employed in the 1800s, and includes recipes that span the spectrum from simple concoctions to complex formulations using ingredients like aromatic elixir, Lactart and Acid Phosphate.This information is invaluable to anyone who enjoys creative drinks and recipes.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Art of Drink (May 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0981175910
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981175911
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.4 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #273,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The cocktail renaissance has been about the rediscovery and evangelism of the history, technique, achievements, personalities, arcana and culture of roughly 200 years of American mixed drink tradition (and, to be fair, its evolutionary strains in other parts of the world). The last fifteen years has delivered a growing stream of new books on the topic. Most fall into the evangelism category, some into the rediscovery category and some are just noise. Atop the rediscovery category--the domain of scholarly work--rest a tidy handful of books that can be termed revelatory. David Wondrich's Imbibe! is a particularly prominent example, to which I would add--in no particular order--Jeff Berry's Sippin' Safari, Gary Regan's Joy of Mixology, Lowell Edmund's Martini, Straight Up, Wayne Curtis' ...and a Bottle of Rum, Dale DeGroff's Craft of the Cocktail, and Ted Haigh's Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. I'm sure I'm unintentionally omitting some peers, but I'm equally sure these are as essential reading as exists.

To this list we can now add Darcy O'Neil's Fix the Pumps. Rather than being a book about cocktails, Fix the Pumps addresses the topic of the pharmacy soda fountain, the history of which is contemporary with, closely parallel to, and frequently intersects with that of the bar and the mixed drink. As O'Neil documents, the soda fountain was the cocktail's equally reprobate and mercurial cousin. Quite simply, reading Fix the Pumps will plug a gaping hole in your perspective that you most likely didn't even know existed.

The book is concise. The core historical portion fits within about fifty pages and makes no attempt to be exhaustive.
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Format: Paperback
Darcy, the world's most-read cocktail blogger, finally gets this seminal work into print. The title of this review is no exaggeration: FtP is the missing link in mixology history: the entire and complete history of soft- aqnd carbonated-drinks, the lost art of the soda-jerk, what happened to bartenders during Prohibition, how narcotic and stimulant drugs got into sodas (and bar-rooms, and by extension, contemporary culture), how the stage was set for "girl drinks", Tiki and the party-drinks of the exploding 1960s singles-bar culture, and much, much more. And if that weren't enough, O'Neil includes step-by-step guides to making your own sodas of all kinds, and hundreds of formerly extinct recipes. And if THAT weren't enough, O'Neil has the temerity to be a funny, engaging and passionate author too, the bastard. No bartender can call himself a serious craftsperson if they have not read this book, and no consumer will swallow a Coke quite so carelessly after reading it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After hearing about how Fix the Pumps was the keystone to building a wondrous and comprehensive understanding of the world of soda, I bought the book. I'm sorry to say it left me feeling pretty flat. Areas for improvement include everything from the quality of the paper (too thin, too easily damaged), to the narrative tone. It feels like a first writing effort for someone, without enough assistance from professional editors. I think Darcy has a good thing started here, and I would really like to see him collaborate with perhaps the folks at PDT on crafting a cross-over book between cocktails and the soda recipes he's developed/uncovered.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
No one has covered this topic as thoroughly as Darcy. The slim book is a quick and engaging read that will change your view of the American soda industry, and the dozens (hundreds?) of recipes in the Appendices will keep you busy for quite a while. For the soda enthusiast, this will put the techniques and recipes of your favorite beverages within your reach. For the bartender, this will suggest a huge realm of new ingredients, techniques, and flavor combinations that are every bit as relevant to cocktails as to "Temperance beverages." A must on every drink-making bookshelf.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Darcy's blog has always been a favorite of mine, for its well-researched and deeply analytical information. Once again he's one step ahead of the rest of liquid culture, delving into--and bringing back the best of--the forgotten world of the drugstore soda fountain. A vividly informative book: it seems like every page contains at least one fact that's downright revelatory, completely revising the way I'd looked at a myriad of subjects. For the bartender, the chemist, the owner of a disused soda fountain, or any other enthusiast, this can be the gateway to a whole new world. Bravo, Mr. O'Neil. And thank you.
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Format: Paperback
As a historical study, there's plenty to enjoy here. The modern fountain drink, soda included, arose along a convoluted path, starting in the days when herbal medicine was the only medicine, and when many distinctions of what was medicine vs. food weren't so crisply drawn as they are today. That created a natural affinity with pharmacies, and with the entire gamut of herbal extracts available. Then, the American Prohibition sent an entire generation of bartenders looking for work, with soda fountains (as they were then) as the closest thing to the ex-bartenders' native habitat. Throw in the history of refrigeration, both for preserving botanicals and for chilling beverages just because people liked cold drinks. It makes for a fascinating and many-faceted heritage, much of which is now lost or nearly so.

O'Neil has done a fine job of tracing that history, and of bringing some of our grandfathers' (or great-grandfathers') flavors back to life. The book ends with hundreds of recipes scoured from sources dating back to the 1880s. Therein lay my real interest, but also some of my disappointment. I really came for the bitters recipes, and many of those offer fascinating ideas, even if I don't follow the recipes as written. Many seem baffling, as when oil of caraway or cardamom are called for - are they even sold any more? Just what were they? Other combinations inspired serious skepticism, like those involving acetic ether, tartar emetic, ammonia, and other incomprehensible or downright scary ingredients. Although O'Neil notes potential health hazards or untoward effect from some few items, others appear in many of the recipes without special mention.

So, I did get a few positive things out of this.
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