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And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails

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3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  920 Ratings  ·  148 Reviews
One spirit, Ten cocktails, and Four Centuries of American History
"And a Bottle of Rum" tells the raucously entertaining story of America as seen through the bottom of a drinking glass. With a chapter for each of ten cocktails--from the grog sailors drank on the high seas in the 1700s to the mojitos of modern club hoppers--Wayne Curtis reveals that the homely spirit once d
...more
Hardcover, 294 pages
Published July 25th 2006 by Crown Publishing Group (NY) (first published January 1st 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,801)
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John
First half = zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Second half = Thumbs Up!

As I'm not very interested in pirates, the British Navy, colonial America, or the post Colonial period either, the first part of the book was a real slog for me. If those areas interest you, your experience should be more pleasant.

For the later part of the story (after the Civil War), the emphasis shifts to American drinking habits in general, and rum's part in the tale, as its popularity varied by generation. This was the book I had in mind
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Richard
Jul 11, 2008 Richard rated it really liked it
I am not so much a sucker for history books as I am a sucker for very focused, almsot gimmicky, history books. Andrew Carr's _Drink: A Social History of America_ is a similarly gimmicky history book that I (pun coming) ate and drank up furiously, and Wayne Curtis has provided an equally capturing read with _And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails_.

This book comes from the level perspective of a connoseur of rum, one who enjoys the depth of the drink, which includes the
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Michelle
Mar 12, 2015 Michelle rated it really liked it
While this book belongs squarely in the realm of "popular" fiction, it is fairly well researched and has a lengthy bibliography. That being said, there are some places where I felt Curtis was having to stretch his point a bit, and the "cocktails" overlap in many respects, so it doesn't work as well as "The History of the World in 6 Glasses" (which I absolutely LOVED). But, this was definitely an entertaining read - and a quick one, and Curtis certainly makes his point that rum, perhaps more than ...more
Jen B
Jun 14, 2015 Jen B rated it it was amazing
I love books. I especially love history books, serious history books, the sort that repel my mother to the point she several years ago swore she'd never, ever gift me a book again, and she was not joking.

This is a serious history book...sort of. It's serious about rum how its life is interwoven with that of the New World. And it is so much fun to read! Whether you're a teetotaler, a classic cocktail aficionado, a voracious reader, or would like the ability to drop some unforgettable stories fro
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Justin
Aug 27, 2013 Justin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, nonfiction
I read this book a while ago, after receiving it as a gift. I remember it be engaging enough that I recently picked it up for a reread, which is rare for me to do with nonfiction books. Thankfully, it holds up just as well as it did when I first read it.

Above all else, this book is about the origins and eccentricities of rum, the indomitable liquor fermented from the industrial waste of making sugar. Curtis covers ten different periods of history, focusing largely on the Americas and the Caribbe
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Sarah Sammis
Jul 31, 2011 Sarah Sammis rated it it was amazing
And a Bottle of Rum by Wayne Curtis draws its title from the pirate song penned by Robert Louis Stevenson for Treasure Island. In fact, Curtis's opening chapter includes an explanation of why he chose the title and how the phrase came about.

From there he explores two parallel histories: the creation of rum and its uses over the years. Along with his discussion of how rum has been used, he has some cocktail recipes and their histories.

My favorite pieces of the book were the history of grog (along
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Laura
Absolutely fascinating. The structure of the book - a history of rum told in the context of 10 cocktails - is well-executed. Curtis has an entertaining writing style and his passion for the subject comes through.

I read this while vacationing in the Caribbean, drinking rum drinks - I highly recommend this as a beach read!
Jesse
Sep 07, 2007 Jesse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History Buffs, Rum enthusiasts
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is excellent, but full review will come later.

An excellent history of America through the lens of rum. I found the early colonial chapters to be the most interesting, though the book has impressive factiods all throughout.

Each chapter is dedicated to a specific rum drink, and the era it exemplifies. I found the guide to rum at the end of the book to be very useful, as well as the formula's for varrious cocktails at the very end of the book. I feel this book has furthered me down a path
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Jeff
Sep 04, 2007 Jeff rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: world-history
Probably the best book I've read this year, and definitey the most fun. Wind your way through the history of the New World through the prism of various confections. Well-written, witty, one of those books that every few pages reveals the origins of commonplace phrases and cliches. Follow rum from the dregs, to on top of the world, driven underground by puritans, and finally enjoying a modern-day renaissance.

I'm thirsty...
Hannah Proctor
Feb 27, 2014 Hannah Proctor rated it it was amazing
I quite enjoy microhistories, and this particular microhistory surveys a sliver of history in the New World by looking through the bottom of a glass of rum. I learned some amazing things about the differences in rum distillation in the West Indies and New England. I read with fascination about the Crown's failed Rum tax, the precursor to the Stamp and Sugar Acts, which paved the way for a colonial revolt by uniting them in a way they'd never been. Of course, no book on rum is complete without He ...more
Marc
Sep 06, 2015 Marc rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This delightful book about the production and consumption of rum concentrates on rum's 17th-century origins (probably in Barbados) and its initial ascension to widespread popularity, and on the invention in the 20th-century of the enduring rum cocktails: the daiquiri, the rum-and-Coke, the mai tai, and the mojito.

The focus is on North America and the West Indies, and the author cleverly structures the book chronologically so that he can, more or less, live up to his subtitle, "A History of the
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Heather Macdermott
Aug 22, 2011 Heather Macdermott rated it liked it
A very informative book on rum & it's history, I enjoyed how the author choose a cocktail for each chapter in which to launch from and further you along rums historic trail. If you like rum & cocktails this was a fun read.
Jamie
Apr 28, 2016 Jamie rated it really liked it
It was an interesting read. Fun to know that pirate's original beverage of choice (really no choice) was wine. Makes me wanna drink more. Yard!
James
Dec 22, 2015 James rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Loved it! History, the Caribbean, pirates, and mai tais!
Sue
Sep 23, 2014 Sue rated it really liked it
What a fun book. I've always been a rum fan, but the history of rum and how deeply it's intertwined with the history of the New World is fascinating. I learned a ton, and the author creates a great narrative, bouncing between historical recitations and his own experiences in researching the book. The book follows a 10 cocktail structure, with each chapter headed up with a cocktail relevant to the time period. I want to try them all. I'm also happy to note that of the 14 rums he recommends at the ...more
Chris
Jul 22, 2011 Chris rated it it was amazing
Similar to "Cod," except actually entertaining.
Kyle
Aug 18, 2015 Kyle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, non-fiction
An enjoyable pop history of the New World told through brief historical sketches and rum-soaked anecdotes. More old-timer's tales than thorough academic fare (though it has a solid bibliography and is backed by a good bit of research), I thought the first third of the book was especially fascinating as it covered familiar material from a different perspective than I'm used to (Caribbean-centric rather than being told strictly from the viewpoint of the English colonies). The whole "history throug ...more
Ubiquitousbastard
Dec 28, 2014 Ubiquitousbastard rated it liked it
This was recommended to me by a fellow history major, and I needed a book to read on the plane, so I decided to try it. Overall, it was interesting. I didn't realize how connected rum was to early American history and how it influenced the American Revolution. Sometimes I thought that the intense details of the rums described were a bit unnecessary since I was reading this more as a history book than a food book and I'm honestly not that well versed in rum. Actually, I think I'm more interested ...more
Caris
Jun 18, 2009 Caris rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009
Rum and me go way back. So when a friend of mine recommended this book to me, I didn’t hesitate. The book’s basic thesis: rum comes from the West Indies, but is deeply rooted in American tradition. Rum was the fuel for the slave trade, the American Revolution, and Prohibition. Cocktails come from very specific places, but no one really knows where as everyone claims credit for them.

In fact, I invented the mojito.

The information was interesting, but I couldn’t get past the fact that this book, a
...more
Paul
Jan 21, 2013 Paul rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book - the writing, the history and the composition are all fantastic and it was fun and interesting. Unfortunately, I spent about a quarter of the book thinking, "Why is he only talking about America?" until I realized that the subtitle of the book is A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails rather than A History of the World in Ten Cocktails. Still, while I would like to see a similar book about the global place of rum (or other drinks), this was interesting enough to ...more
Adam
Jan 14, 2010 Adam rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Pirates, Rum Enthusiasts, Bartenders, Rum Distillery Tour Guides
Shelves: history, non-fiction, rum
When applying for a job at a rum distillery, what better way to prep then reading about the history of the new world as viewed through the bottom of a cocktail glass!

While learning about rum obviously would involve a bit of first hand investigation, Mr. Wayne Curtis, part-time New Orleans resident, was mindful enough to undertake such hard work in order to spare the rest of us the hassle, or hangover, of having to do so!

Following rum from its origins in Barbados (or was it Spain?) through it's N
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Mark
Sep 19, 2011 Mark rated it it was ok
Shelves: food, reviewed
I've become increasingly fond of rum through adulthood with the past few summers finding squeeze bottles of simple syrup and fresh lime juice in the fridge so a daiquiri is never more than a few shakes away. It was the combination of connections with New England and the nautical mystique that first caught my interest. And besides, it's commonly made from molasses, which is made from sugar, so it must be great, right? I consider myself an advance intermediate when it comes to rum knowledge and wa ...more
Mark
Oct 26, 2011 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book to read on the plane on your way to somewhere because it is fun to read and is relatively short. I read it on a trip to England. It is a fun history of rum and how this demon drink figures into the history of the new world. There are all sorts of fun historical anecdotes that the author relates as well as drink recipes and actual historical facts. I actually learned quite a bit from this book and laughed quite a bit as well. One of the things that I learned is that the settl ...more
Jennifer
Jul 25, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
If history were always this well written, I would have been a history rather than a literature major. I actually laughed out loud in a number of places, at the same time that I learned facts about 17th-21st century history and popular culture that were frequently from an intriguing perspective and always interesting.

If you like rum, the recipes-through-history are a bonus. If you don't, you will still find much, much of value in this volume. Although rum is the focus, the social, political, mil
...more
Eric
Mar 20, 2012 Eric rated it it was amazing
This book caught my eye while looking for something to take on a long plane ride. As a non-fiction lover, I'm always interested in books that can tie together disparate elements for a greater understanding. And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails by Wayne Curtis is quite successful in tying together the history of rum with the development of the New World.

By exploring the development, rise, fall, and steady rise again of the rum spirit, Curtis is able to deftly tell the
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Matt
Apr 15, 2012 Matt rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This books is part history and part drinking story. The book effortlessly bobs between general history and details of rum consumption. The author clearly enjoyed himself in the research, but like his taste in drinks it is drier than you might expect for rum. This balance towards history works with the message of the book, which is that rum can be a complex and sophisticated liquor. The author claims respect for rum with a respectable book, but doesn't make you take it straight.


On the history sid
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Jen
Sep 12, 2013 Jen rated it liked it
Shelves: micro-history
Whee...it's done. I suppose this means I should take it back to the library, huh?

Remember when, right after Bridget Jones hit the best seller list, you couldn't swing a stick in a bookstore without hitting a book written in diary form. I would have given a body part for a book with actual chapter headings and a decent story (I AM LOOKING AT YOU, "I Don't Know How She Does It").

It's obvious Wayne Curtis read "History of the World in Six Glasses" and went "Ooooh, that looks fun." Rum. Drinks. THIS
...more
Nicole
Oct 12, 2011 Nicole rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating and sometimes very funny book that explained how rum, or at least the rum trade, helped shape American history. The title was slightly misleading, because there really aren't 10 cocktails of earth-shaking importance that changed the world, but that's a minor quibble. I still enjoyed sipping the cocktail listed at the beginning of each of the 10 chapters while reading, and am currently working my way through the supplemental recipes at the end of the book.

The book covers a
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Angel
Feb 24, 2012 Angel rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: rum fans, microhistory readers
This is a book I definitely recommend. If you like rum, or you enjoy rum drinks, you will probably enjoy this book that will teach you more about the history of this spirit. If you are history buff or reader, you will enjoy the book as well.

The book is organized in chapters named after a different rum drink. Each chapter provides a history of the drink in question as well as a history of the New World in the process. Together, the chapters provide not only a narrative of where rum came from, wh
...more
Bobby Otter
Jun 05, 2012 Bobby Otter rated it liked it
A solid and interesting look at rum and its relationship and importance with the New World. There are a number of highs in the book, specifically the colonial era both in the US and Caribbean and the Prohibition in the US. However, it does lag between about 1800 and Prohibition and then post-prohibition, mainly because the roll of rum in the American conscious and consumption was lukewarm during these times.

Rum is also an interesting choice to study the history of the New World because it's rea
...more
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New Orleans-based writer Wayne Curtis is a contributing editor to The Atlantic magazine and regularly writes book reviews for the Wall Street Journal. He’s also written for American Scholar, Yankee, Smithsonian, Saveur, the New York Times, Architect, Canadian Geographic, Sunset, enRoute, and American Archeology. His newest book is The Last Great Walk, an account of a remarkable 4,000-mile journey ...more
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“Their isolation was communal,” he wrote. “They could escape neither their loneliness nor each other.” 0 likes
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