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Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History Hardcover – November 6, 2012
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About the Author
Until 2011, Mark Spivak hosted a weekly show call Uncorked! on WXEL-FM, the NPR affiliate for the Palm Beaches and South Florida. He is also the Wine and Spirits Editor for the Palm Beach Media Group, and his website, Spivak On Wine, features winery profiles, reviews of restaurants in the U.S. and abroad, and reviews of wines and spirits ranging from selections to collectibles. He has written for National Geographic Traveler, The Robb Report, Art & Antiques, Newsmax, Men’s Journal, Private Clubs, and the Continental and Ritz-Carlton magazines. In addition, he holds the Certificate and Advanced Diplomas from the Court of Master Sommeliers. His running commentary on the world of food, wine, and spirits is available at the Global Gourmet blog on www.palmbeachillustrated.com.
Top Customer Reviews
I have to admit that some of the spirits mentioned in the book were ones I had never heard of. But the evolution of how drinks were made was quite interesting. Having toured wineries in California, I am familiar with the distilling process and was surprised at the levels of flavors and length of time some of the spirits need to evolve before being bottled. Patience is definitely a virtue with a lot of these businessmen.
Nearly each one of the creators came from meager beginnings and just had an idea. Each of them had a strong determination to make their dream a reality and fought through prohibition, wars, bad economies, and clearly came out ahead...most living as millionaires.
I think my favorite story came from Jean Paul DeJoria. In 2010, he was 66th on the list of Forbes 400th wealthiest Americans. DeJoria is the cofounder of John Paul Mitchell Systems (hair care products) and surprisingly, also of Patron Tequila. He grew up in a foster home, joined the Navy, became homeless and was a single dad. He sold Coke bottles to buy food and eventually got a job at Redken Laboratories. That led him and a friend to create John Paul Mitchell Systems. Then one day, drinking with another friend, he was given tequila in beautiful hand blown bottles from Mexico.Read more ›
As other reviews have noted, this is as much about brand development and marketing as it is about spirits generally. The accounts of entrepreneurship are fascinating and often surprising--I have more respect for them now. It includes such brands as Grey Goose, Patron tequila, Jack Daniel's, among others. The aspect of quality is addressed but in some brands, sales and branding seem more important than any particular quality of the spirit itself.
The writing sometimes sparkles and is always interesting. It's always possible in a book like this one that a brand subsidized the book somehow, but there is no indication of that so far as I can tell.
His account of Patron tequila is to me by far the most interesting, but his discussion of how several brands have altered their image by using prominent rap artists is intriguing. After reading the book, you will better appreciate iconic spirits as superbly marketed entities,
The stories are not what you would expect and the chapter list is sure to include one of your favorites. Can you guess which alcohol goes with each chapter?
Moonshine, Rum-Running, and the Founding of NASCAR
The Golden Goose that Laid the "World's Best Vodka"
Transforming Bitterness into Sex Appeal
How the Humble Juniper Berry Almost Brought Down the British Empire
The LSD of the Nineteenth Century
Behind the Reputation of the Greatest Luxury Drink
The Legacy of a Cuban Exile
How the World Learned to Love Partially Decayed Vegetable Matter
Capturing Flowers in a Bottle
American Whiskey Heads North
Premium Tequila Comes of Age
The Invention of the True American Spirit
One of my favorite stories is of St-Germain. The website includes imagines of men oh so gently picking the elderflowers and then mounting a bicycle to bring them to the factory for processing. Iconic Spirits hints that it may not be entirely true, but the image goes so well with the flavor that I am happy to believe the myth. If you have not yet tried St-Germain, I highly encourage you to seek out a bottle. To me it tastes like Hawaii; flowery, tropical, and sweet. There really is no flavor that comes close.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
When I saw Mark Spivak wrote a book on Spirits, I thought, "what does this wine geek know about that subject"? And then, "why would I find that interesting"? Read morePublished on April 25, 2014 by shari gherman
In ICONIC SPIRITS: AN INTOXICATING HISTORY, Mark Spivak serves up a wonderful "cocktail" of politics and pop culture, liquor and lore - with a twist-- expertly debunking... Read morePublished on March 8, 2014 by Meryl W Cooper
The stories behind the names, very entertaining. I am going to buy several copies as gifts...he is much more than just a wine guy!
Loved the unique take on this book. Anyone who's into cocktails and spirits will enjoy reading this. The author also has a great pod cast series.Published on August 17, 2013 by kathy casey
I originally picked up this book for research, but I found myself drawn in by the narrative. It is obvious Mr. Read morePublished on June 7, 2013 by Daphne N.
Written by award-winning writer Mark Spivak, who specializes in wine, spirits, food, restaurants and culinary travel, these absorbing portraits of moonshine, vodka, Cognac, and... Read morePublished on January 31, 2013 by cheryl c malandrinos
Man has always found a way to ferment and/or distill for liquid consumption, and many of those beverages have a fascinating history. Read morePublished on January 14, 2013 by THE SELF-TAUGHT COOK
My wife got this for me as a Christmas present. I've read lots of cocktail books, so I was a little skeptical that it would have anything new. Read morePublished on January 1, 2013 by 7city