Rebellious Spirits, by Ruth Ball, tells the secret and illicit history of our favourite spirits with a mix of anecdotes and period accurate cocktail recipes.
Rebellious Spirits: The Illicit History of Booze in Britain is written by Ruth Ball, founder of Alchemist Dreams and relative of Admiral Edward Vernon, the man who invented navy grog. It tells the stories of some of the UK’s favourite cocktails and spirits with a focus on the secret and naughty side. It’s a book full of the tall tales of Cornish smugglers, black market bootleggers and, of course, gin sold secretly through hidden pipes and advertised with a black cat.
From its origins as a religious ceremony* up to the story of a wrecked ship off the coast of Scotland filled with more whisky than you could drink in a lifetime, Ball has collected a fine assortment of funny anecdotes, larger than life characters and thrilling stories.
*The first people to learn to distill spirit didn’t drink it, but instead poured it on their heads and set themselves alight. If done correctly it’s a harmless but impressive magic trick. Still, we’ll skip the risk and mix it with some tonic instead.
Alongside these great stories of booze’s past are period accurate cocktails, for the very brave to try, along with some safer modern interpretations to try at home. If you’re interested in gin cocktails then this is an indispensable book filled with some historical favourites that you won’t find on cocktail menus anymore. Where else are you going to find a Gin & Milk Punch or a “Gin & Hot” (gin, ale and sugar syrup into which has been plunged a heated iron from the fire)?
An engaging, witty and informative read for anyone interested in the colourful and exciting history of booze.
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