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

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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  686 ratings  ·  124 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
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Hardcover, 294 pages
Published July 25th 2006 by Crown Publishing Group (NY) (first published January 1st 2006)
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Community Reviews

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Richard
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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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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Justin
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
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 5 of 5 stars  ·  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 5 of 5 stars
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
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
Heather Macdermott
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.
Sue
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
Similar to "Cod," except actually entertaining.
Caris
Jun 18, 2009 Caris rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
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Paul
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 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Pirates, Rum Enthusiasts, Bartenders, Rum Distillery Tour Guides
Shelves: history, rum, non-fiction
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
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
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
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
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Eric
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
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
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
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Nicole
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 5 of 5 stars
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
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Bobby Otter
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
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Sacramento Public Library
This is definitely not a book for any historian that has their ascot on too tight. Curtis boasts a respectable bibliography at the end, but in the true spirit of a barroom discussion, a lot of the book's anecdotes are tempered with speculation and wild theorizing. Which is at it should be; the book is about rum, but it's also about pirates, bootleggers, and flamboyant mixologists. This is less of a history textbook, and more of a mythology. There are a lot of fascinating historical tidbits in ev ...more
Todd
I do not think that I have a problem but I do have a fascination with the history of drink and the ways it has reflected historical trends and, at times, directed them. This book did not disappoint. The tale of rum is the tale of America. The author follows the ups and downs and, as an added bonus, provides the recipes for the drinks that exemplified various time periods. A nice read and for the fans of rum, a must. Oh, and for those keeping score, a daiquiri is a man drink. If it was good enoug ...more
Mike
Oct 31, 2009 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
Another in a series of books on beverages and alcohol that I read in a group. I wasn't expecting to learn anything about how rum is manufactured, but it fit a theme.

This is a fun romp through the past (almost) four centuries. The author clearly likes the product, but he's got a few of his history facts twisted. But that's okay because the social treatment/acceptance of rum is dominate over the more mundane facts. Curtis embellishes the book with anecdotes of rum. It's fun to know that Blackbeard
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Ensiform
From grog and kill-devil to the “Demon Rum” of the temperance movement to tiki bar fads and flavored drink mixes, Curtis makes a great case for rum as a truly American story (if you count the islands where the sugar and molasses originated as American).

It’s a very readable and fascinating story, livened up with tales of violent pirates (such as rum’s own Captain Morgan), disputed and apocryphal tales of where various cocktails originated, the effects of the Molasses Act and Sugar Act on the Amer
...more
Laura
Feb 05, 2014 Laura rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
This book had a lot of interesting facts and quips; and I loved viewing history though the lens of the quintessential North American liquor of rum and the impacted it has had- and how the rum industry has been impacted in turn. My issue with the book was in the redundancies. It reads as if each of the 10 chapters were meant to be stand-alone long-form articles, so some background is given in each chapter: which means a lot of ground is covered at least 3 times, and often more. It's still worth a ...more
Bill Cartero
An interesting tale of the way in which rum has lubricated the machinery of the American nation. Starting with pirates and even Captain Morgan himself (a privateer that worked for the British Crown) the rum flows from the early 1700s and helps form what becomes the first notion of the United States. Perhaps the unites states of alcoholics, in that by historical estimates the average American adult male around that period drank 5-7 shots each day! Moving into the 1900s, rum is related to movement ...more
McLean
I recently heard Ken Burns describe the traditional approach to studying history as being "a list of presidents, punctuated by wars."

This book breaks from that, and uses instead the history of rum as a framing device to talk about the history of the English-speaking new world.

While the tale of rum is certainly interesting just in a food / drink context, the real strength of this book is in how it is able to give a new perspective on American history. We get to see the story of this country from
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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
More about Wayne Curtis...
The Last Great Walk: The True Story of a 1909 Walk from New York to San Francisco, and Why it Matters Today Maine Off the Beaten Path, 7th Frommer's Portable Maine Coast Frommer's New England 2003 Frommer's Canada

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