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The Joy of Drinking

by Barbara Holland

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1105184,605 (4.03)3
With characteristic elegance and delicious wit, Barbara Holland, ('a national treasure.'- Philadelphia Inquirer) celebrates the age-old act of drinking in this gimlet-eyed survey of man's relationship with booze, since the joyful discovery, ten thousand years ago, of fermented fruits and grains. In this spirited paean to alcohol, two parts cultural history, one part personal meditation, Holland takes readers on a bacchanalian romp through the Fertile Crescent, the Mermaid Tavern, Plymouth Rock, and Capitol Hill and reveals, as Faulkner famously once said, how civilization indeed begins with fermentation. Filled with tasty tid bits about distillers, bootleggers, taverns, hangovers, and Alcoholics Anonymous, The Joy of Drinking is a fascinating portrait of the world of pleasures fermented and distilled.… (more)

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Showing 5 of 5
I'm only a chapter or two into this book, but I need to say that Anthony Bourdain needs to read an audiobook of this. He and Barbara Holland must have the same editor or grammar teacher or elocution class, because the phrasing is spot on. Very enjoyable. ( )
  masterdeski | Jan 1, 2018 |
I picked this up at the library because it looked cute. It was hilarious. Holland's authorial tone is wry and wonderful. The book is sort of an overview of alcohol's history, but Holland dips and lingers in a wholly whimsical fashion, and ends with directions for building a still, which item has been on my darling's wish list since I've known him.

It gets progressively funnier as it moves forward in time. I enjoyed it mightily, and can't resist sharing a snippet about the new beer snobs that made me guffaw:

"Former beer joints gone classy offer beer tastings in little sample glasses for the educated palate. [...] Its customers are quite, quite different from sweaty Joe Six-Pack with his canned Budweiser. They're discriminating experts of an entirely different social class with an entirely different agenda.

Of course drinking, old-fashioned drinking, is still unwholesome, still bad for the body if not the actual soul, but fortunately, what they're doing isn't drinking at all. They aren't drinkers. They're connoisseurs and critics, priests of ritual, sniffers and tasters, discerning scholars scowling thoughtfully into their glass. Fun has nothing to do with it and they never break into song."
( )
1 vote satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
I loved this book, but I have never been so tempted to have booze for breakfast as I am after reading it. ( )
  quilted_kat | Dec 9, 2008 |
I picked this off my shelves last week, in search of a light read, and became captivated by the droll humor and wit. Perhaps a bit too captivated since I followed her advice a little too closely last Friday. Her extended essay is not comprehensive, but is interesting and filled with amusing stories. Her attitude is against prudishness, and the heath believers, and she strongly suspects that temperance movements were mostly motivated by a desire of the rich to be certain that the lower classes worked hard and soberly. She discusses civilization, beer, wine, whisky, bon-vivants and hangover cures, with an appendix for home brewed recipes. I bought this originally because I had enjoyed her other book, Endangered Pleasures ( )
  neurodrew | Nov 23, 2008 |
A humorous little book that looks at drinking through the ages. Though it draws a long bow (or misinterprets the facts, depending on how you look at it) at times, the essence of this book rings true - throughout history drink has been a normal part of life for many cultures, and what would be considered 'problem drinking' today would not have been considered a problem in the past. In amongst the humour, there are some deeper thoughts on just how much western society has changed, probably not for the better, and how our perceptions of what is acceptable change.
This book includes instructions on setting up your own still, though I am not sure if it actually works! ( )
1 vote ForrestFamily | Jul 24, 2007 |
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With characteristic elegance and delicious wit, Barbara Holland, ('a national treasure.'- Philadelphia Inquirer) celebrates the age-old act of drinking in this gimlet-eyed survey of man's relationship with booze, since the joyful discovery, ten thousand years ago, of fermented fruits and grains. In this spirited paean to alcohol, two parts cultural history, one part personal meditation, Holland takes readers on a bacchanalian romp through the Fertile Crescent, the Mermaid Tavern, Plymouth Rock, and Capitol Hill and reveals, as Faulkner famously once said, how civilization indeed begins with fermentation. Filled with tasty tid bits about distillers, bootleggers, taverns, hangovers, and Alcoholics Anonymous, The Joy of Drinking is a fascinating portrait of the world of pleasures fermented and distilled.

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