How's Your Drink?: Cocktails, Culture, and the Art of Drinking Well (Google eBook)

Front Cover
Agate Publishing, 2007 - Cooking - 218 pages
19 Reviews

"A superb guide to the world of the cocktail..." -- Christopher Hitchens


Ever since the Wall Street Journal introduced its new Saturday weekend edition in 2005, one of its most popular features has been the "How's Your Drink?" cocktail column by Eric Felten, which illuminates the culture of the cocktail, showing how it has been an essential part of American life. Now, Felten has created his first How's Your Drink? book--an essential addition to the literature of spirits and cocktails, a staple for the library of any cultivated man, and a fantastic holiday gift title for hard-to-shop for husbands and fathers. How's Your Drink? (the title comes from the phrase with which Frank Sinatra habitually checked in with guests he entertained in his home) is an invaluable, erudite guide to culture, lore, and history of the cocktail.

In the decades after Prohibition, the cocktail was king. Everyone knew the cocktail party's rituals and choreography. A man was judged on his skill as a mixer, and took pride in the elegant austerity of his Martini. But come the Sixties, cocktails went the way of the Man in the Grey Flannel Suit. A generation later, cocktails are back, but the literature and lore of the classics has been missing. These wonderful concoctions have been like puzzling artifacts from a lost civilization - where do they come from? What do they mean?

John F. Kennedy played nuclear brinksmanship with a Gin and Tonic in his hand. Teddy Roosevelt took the witness stand in a celebrated libel trial to testify that six Mint Juleps over the course of his presidency did not make him a drunk. John Updike killed the Old Fashioned--F.D.R.'s drink of choice --when he made it the instrument of infanticide in Rabbit, Run, while Ernest Hemingway and Raymond Chandler both did their part to promote the Gimlet. Drinks find their way into the tunes of Cole Porter and other songwriters. Frank Sinatra preferred Jack Daniels and water with exactly four cubes of ice. There are cocktails immortalizing electoral triumphs and drinks used in buying votes. Fighting men mixed drinks with whatever liquor could be scavenged between barrages, raising glasses to celebrate victory and to ease the pain of defeat too.

Eric Felten's elegant, erudite prose illuminates American culture through the prism of a glass--and based on exhaustive research, he also delivers the authentic recipes for the best drinks, both famous and obscure.


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Review: How's Your Drink?: Cocktails, Culture, and the Art of Drinking Well

User Review  - Jack - Goodreads

Such an amazing read! Thoroughly enjoyed both the historical aspects of the book and the recipes and pure craftsmanship of the cocktails presented. Got a ton of great anecdotes to throw around at get-together's now! Read full review

Review: How's Your Drink?: Cocktails, Culture, and the Art of Drinking Well

User Review  - Grant - Goodreads

Great little book with anecdotes about the origin of cocktails both well-known and obscure. Plus some decent recipes, to boot. Quick read, worth it for any cocktail enthusiasts. Read full review

Selected pages


1 Of Ice and Men
2 Slam Bang Tang
3 Straight Up
4 On the Rocks
5 Libation Tribulations
6 How Sweet It Is
7 Cocktails and Combat
8 Heres How and Where
9 The Spirits of Christmas

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 1 - No, Sir, claret is the liquor for boys ; port for men ; but he who aspires to be a hero (smiling) must drink brandy.
Page 11 - I have therefore long thought that a few prosecutions of the most prominent offenders would have a wholesome effect in restoring the integrity of the presses. Not a general prosecution, for that would look like persecution : but a selected one.
Page 28 - Bramin, priest of Brahma and Vishnu and Indra, -who still sits in his temple on the Ganges reading the Vedas, or dwells at the root of a tree with his crust and water jug. I meet his servant come to draw water for his master, and our buckets as it were grate together in the same well. The pure Walden water is mingled with the sacred water of the Ganges.

About the author (2007)

Eric Felten writes the "How's Your Drink?" column for the Wall Street Journal, which appears weekly in the paper's Saturday edition. Born in Phoenix into a family of jazz musicians, he is a singer, trombonist, and leader of the Eric Felten Jazz Orchestra. He lives in Washington D.C. with his wife and family.

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