AND A BOTTLE OF RUM: A HISTORY OF THE NEW WORLD IN TEN COCKTAILS tells the story of the rise, fall, and return of America's most reviled and calumnied spirit. Rum began as a byproduct of the 17th-century West Indian sugar industry but soon took on a life of its own – especially in coastal New England, which was home to as many as 150 colonial distilleries.
Demon Rum has long shouldered blame for such dark episodes as the slave trade, the excesses of bloodthirsty pirates, and widespread drinking that led to Prohibition. (Rum's role has generally been overblown in each of these cases.) But rum rarely gets credit for its role in American culture. Distilling was the second most important industry after shipbuilding, and when the British crown meddled it (think: Molasses Act), the colonies learned how to work together to resist.
And a Bottle of Rum examines rum's history by tracking the rise of ten distinctive rum drinks from 1640 to the present. Recipes included.
EXCERPTS / ADAPTATIONS
Excerpts from or adaptations of the book have appeared in:
The Atlantic (October 2005): Old Man and the Daiquiri: A search through Havana to answer the question of why Hemingway drank a girly drink.
The American Scholar (Summer 2006): Rum and Coca-Cola: The murky derivations of a sweet drink and a sassy World War II song. [no link available]
American Heritage (September 2006): Tiki Time: How sex, rum, World War II and the brand-new state of Hawaii ignited a fad that has never quite ended.
And a Bottle of Rum has served as an authoritative source in numerous articles, including Jonathan Miles's cocktail column in the Sunday New York Times, and Eric Felten's "How's Your Drink" column in the Wall Street Journal. If you'd like to read or hear more about the book, try these links:
NPR's All Things Considered (Aug. 19. 2006): A five-minute talk with host Debbie Elliott about all things rum.
KCRW's Good Food (Sept. 16. 2006): What makes rum rum? A chat with host Evan Kleiman about the history of rum. Quicktime audio here. Other formats available here.
Associated Press (July 2006): Reporter Clark Canfield talks with me about rum, rebellion and how the book came to be.
Washington Post: Jonathan Yardley, "The history of the Americas through the foggy lens of alcohol." (July 23, 2006)
The Simon: James H. Johnson, "Yo-ho-ho: Wayne Curtis’s 'And a Bottle of Rum.'" (Sep 14, 2006)
International Socialist Review: Amy Muldoon, "Rum doings." (March 2007)
TALKS / PRESENTATIONS
I'd be happy to tailor a talk about the history of rum for your group! I've done this for groups ranging from a dozen historical society members to more than 150 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, an event that also involved serving four historic rum cocktails while giving a 90-minute illustrated talk on rum's illustrious past.
I've also spoken at rum tastings, book shops, and distilling conferences in the United States and abroad. And for the past half-dozen years I've given talks, hosted dinners, and participated on panels at the annual Tales of the Cocktail conference; topics have included rum history, proof and spirits, Prohibition-era smuggling, historic hangover cures, tiki drinks, and how to taste rum. I'd be happy to reprise any of these.
Contact me for the particulars.