• Rating: 10
  • Value: 10
Classification: ,

Buy this book. You need to read it, and you might even enjoy it.

TITLE: Imbibe!
AUTHOR: David Wondrich
PUBLISHER: Perigee Books, 317 pages
TYPE: Drinks Recipes and history
COST: $23.95
REVIEWED BY: Chris Carlsson,


The Cliffs’ Notes version of this review is thus: Throw out all your other drinks books and guides. Buy this one.

That being said, let me modify (slightly) on that and expand the review. . .

There are two others I would add to the list to make it a 3 book library, Eric Felten’s How’s Your Drink? and Simon Diffords Cocktail Guide #7.

Imbibe is really two books in one. The first being a scholarly but immensely readable and practical dissection, dissertation and commentary on the famed bartender “Professor” Jerry Thomas, his environs, and his book How to Mix Drinks or The Bon Vivant’s Companion (1862) which could be considered in some respects the Gutenberg Bible of drinks and bartending books in both printing and sociological aspects.

Wondrich brings his own professorial skill and resources to researching and documenting this larger than life figure, the drinking culture, and all the other ingredients, in a extremely refreshing departure from stilted academia -while keeping to the research standards. Wondrich makes it extremely entertaining and readable to boot.

The second book, as it were, is a careful and skillfull updating of the Bon Vivant’s Companion itself. While any number of people have reprinted the book in the past (with varying degrees of authenticity and detail to the original) almost no one has attempted an updating,clarification or interpetation of the original for modern day.

This Herculean effort coupled with a great deal of experiential research (read mixing drinks) to interpret, translate and clarify many of the nuances or implied knowledge of the original Thomas book, make this an invaluable addition to the library of any student of drink- academic or experiential.

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