Who Is to Blame for the 7 and 7 Cocktail? An Interview with Adam McDowell, Author of Drinks: A User’s Guide

Source: Adam McDowell

The American Spectator’s Kevin Kosar badgers the Toronto writer Adam McDowell.  

Kevin Kosar: Congrats on the publication of Drinks: A User’s Guide (Tarcher, 2016). It’s a smart-looking book, and I enjoyed it. So how’s the weather in Minnesota?

Adam McDowell: It’s lovely, there are Canadian flags everywhere, people being very polite to each other.

Kosar: Wait…. you’re a Canadian? In Canada?

McDowell: Yes, born and raised in Toronto.

Kosar: Why?

McDowell: I’ve never had a doctor’s bill in my life. That’s explanation enough.

Kosar: As a Canadian, I trust you consume barbarous quantities of drinks like Yukon Jack, Canadian Club, Molson, and Moosehead, right?

McDowell: Ha! Yes, and Fireball, which few people realize is a Canadian product, which we’re proud of. Just like we’re proud of Justin Bieber. In all seriousness, I think Canadian drinking habits are different from U.S. ones. By and large, we drink less.… As much as there’s this image of Canadians as these macho drinkers, it’s actually a pretty moderate country in that way.

Kosar: Any bitters drinking going on up there?

McDowell: Oh, yes. You do get Bitters and ESB. The word bitter is thought by marketers to be a no-go. But it is here…. There’s a little bit more market for British porter, mild beer, that kind of thing. But it’s a small difference. Generally speaking, if you’re from the U.S. and you come to Canada, and you go shopping for beer, you’re going to have a similar experience.

Kosar: Is anyone making good wine up there? Continue reading “Who Is to Blame for the 7 and 7 Cocktail? An Interview with Adam McDowell, Author of Drinks: A User’s Guide”

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The Bloody Mary: An Unlikely Breakfast of Champions

Mmmm, breakfast. What appeals to the mouth and stomach at the early hour when the birds are singing and the sun’s rays are spraying over the horizon? Something starchy, like toast? Perhaps some protein — eggs and bacon sound right. And perhaps a cup of coffee or tea to help shake the spell of Morpheus. That what the body needs, right?

So how is it that the Bloody Mary — usually a concoction of tomato juice, vodka, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, a stalk of celery, and a bit of lemon juice — became a famed breakfast go-to? Like much in life, it is anything but clear.

We don’t even know who invented the drink. “Popular Bloody Mary legend points to Fernand ‘Pete’ Petiot, at bartender at Harry’s New York Bar in the 1920s,” writes Brian Bartels in The Bloody Mary: The Lore and Legend of a Cocktail Classic, with Recipes for Brunch and Beyond (Ten Speed Press, 2017). But seeing as the bar’s head, Harry McElhone, didn’t list the Bloody Mary — or any tomato juice drinks — in his 1927 cocktail recipe book, this hypothesis is suspect. New York comedian George Jessel asserted in his autobiography that he created the drink in 1927 after an all-night bender. Another theory is that Petiot created the drink shortly after Prohibition. Petiot had moved from Paris to new York City, and was slinging the Red Snapper — vodka, tomato juice, citrus juice, and spices — at the St. Regis’ King Cole bar. So maybe Jessel came up with idea and Petiot refined it? Who knows?

Nor do we know why it was named the “Bloody Mary” or how exactly it moved from one watering hole to becoming a staple of bar menus around the world. But it did, and at least two factors explain why.

First, the food industry got into the canned juice business in a big way in the first few decades of the 20th century. This created year round bar and restaurant access to juices with long shelf lives. Juice-makers fostered consumer interest by heavily advertising the healthful effects of gulping juice in the morning. (Is acidic orange juice really what the stomach wants bright and early?)

Second, despite its ingredients — the Bloody Mary is delicious. Especially if one is a little hungover. (When really wrecked, no food or drink appeal.) The viscous tomato juice fills the stomach, the black pepper soothes its disturbances, and the whole amalgam invigorates and helps the consumer convince himself he feels fine and can endure the day before him.

Like so many good things in life, the Bloody Mary has evolved. An early version has only three ingredients (vodka, tomato juice, and lemon juice.) Recent versions have become more baroque — one might find wasabi or a pickle in the glass. Bartels himself created the “PB&J & Mary,” which is made with peanut-infused vodka (or tequila!), strawberry jam, Cholula hot sauce, and more. And some of drinks being called Bloody Mary’s are miles from the original. The “Pirate Mary,” another Bartels invention, is a luminous yellow-green rum and pineapple drink.

My own preference is for a Bloody Mary with the standard ingredients: a belt of vodka, tomato juice, dash of lemon juice and Worcestershire, a little horseradish, and a stalk of celery. And a few pieces of crispy bacon. The awakening body does need protein.
Kevin R. Kosar is a senior fellow at R Street Institute and heads its alcohol policy reform program. He is the author of Moonshine: A Global History (2017) and Whiskey: A Global History (2010). This article was first published by the American Spectator.
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Hot of the Presses—Moonshine A Global History

No matter where you go on earth, there is moonshine. It has been made from just about every imaginable foodstuff: grapes, grain, raw sugar, tree bark, horse milk and more. College students in the developed world drink it; so do day labourers in the world’s poorest slums and villages. All moonshine has two characteristics: it is highly alcoholic, and it is illegal. Kevin R. Kosar tells the colourful history of moonshine with characters that range from crusading lawmen, earnest farmers and clever tinkerers, to vicious smugglers and ruthless gangsters; from pontificating poets and sneaky swamp-rats, to adolescents looking for a thrill.

Copies of Moonshine: A Global History, are available via University of Chicago Press, AmazonBookDepository.com, Target.com, and Reaktion Books (United Kingdom).

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Outlaws of the Lakes: Bootlegging and Smuggling from Colonial Times to Prohibition

Photo credit: AlcoholReviews.com
Photo credit: AlcoholReviews.com

I picked up a copy of this book at the airport in Traverse City, Michigan, where, funny enough, I was attending a conference on alcohol regulation. Boy, I am glad I did.

Edward Butts did a fine job of putting together 23 chapters on drinks smuggling around the Great Lakes. The tales of mischief and intrepid dealing start in the 1690s when the scoundrel Antoine Laumet de la Mothe de Cadillac smuggled brandy about Lake Huron and Michigan. Butts carries the reader forward to the 1930s and the mayhem wrought by Al Capone, the Purple Gang, and other brutes who would do anything for a buck—be it selling toxic drinks or murdering those who interfered.

The cast of characters is quite something: Joyous Jenny, Gentleman Charlies Mills, and the “Pistol Packin’ Parson” J.Q.L. Spracklin. The structure of the book as a collection of free-standing yarns means you can pick it up and dip into it whenever you like. Keep it on your nightstand, in your desk at work, or on a shelf in your loo.

Outlaws of the Lakes is an enjoyable piece of amateur history, and has some great illustrations in it. For anyone interested in true crime tales or the lesser-known aspects of Prohibition history, this book will be a treat. Copies can be purchased online here.

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Idiot’s Guide to Homebrewing

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Source: AlcoholReviews.com

Want to learn to homebrew? Then get this book. The author, Daniel Ironside, is an experienced homebrewer. The book lays out in straightforward and lucid prose the what and how of making beer from the simplest recipes (Summertime Blonde) to more complex iterations (Munich Dunkel).

Critically (yes. we’re serious), you can open this book and set it on the counter and it will stay open—which is important when you are stirring wort.

You can nab a copy for cheap here.

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Kent State Professor and Priest Authors Book on Ohio Beers

Paul Gaston Ohios Craft BeersThe craft beer scene in Ohio is getting better and better. One sign of it’s impressive growth is this: a book has been written on it. Rick Armon reports:

“Ohio’s Craft Beers ($18.95, Black Squirrel Books, an imprint of Kent State University Press) is available now or will be soon at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and independent bookstores. The 243-page book profiles more than 40 of Ohio’s larger and influential breweries, offering the backstory of each and recommending beers to try. It features more than 125 color photographs taken by Gaston, a foreword by Smokehouse Brewing Co. owner Lenny Kolada, and many sidebars on tasting rooms, “starter” beers and other recommendations….” (Read more at Ohio.com)

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