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David Wondrich Books In Order

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Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Esquire Drinks: An OpinionatedIrreverent Guide to Drinking With 250 Drink Recipes (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
Stomp and Swerve: American Music Gets Hot, 1843-1924 (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
Killer Cocktails: An Intoxicating Guide to Sophisticated Drinking (2005)Description / Buy at Amazon
Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash (With: Dale DeGroff) (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
Punch: The Delightsof the Flowing Bowl (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails (With: Noah Rothbaum) (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

David Wondrich is an American author of humor, entertainment, food, and wine books. He was born in Monongahela, aka Mon City, in Washington County, PA, and raised in different popular cities nationwide. Before becoming an author, Wondrich was a bass player, English professor, and ragtime writer.

Wondrich’s book Imbibe is an engaging and comprehensive handbook providing rich historical insights into traditional American cocktails.

When people think about where cocktails came from, they often see them as super American. Why? Well, because cocktails are bold and pushy. They make you feel confident fast and are a mix of fancy booze and simpler stuff. Simply put, cocktails are pretty awesome.
Understanding drinking habits across history offers a glimpse into the past. It’s fascinating to explore the reasons behind why and how people drank during specific periods in history. Delving into drinking culture sheds light on societal norms, rituals, and the value of beverages in different eras.

Exploring the extensive history of cocktails in America is not an easy task. That’s why Wondrich’s book focuses on a nearly legendary bartender, Jerry Thomas. He uses Thomas’s experiences across American bars as a central narrative to explore the country’s drinking history. This journey spans from the 18th-century colonies to the Prohibition era.

The depth of research in Wondrich’s book is commendable. It highlights the challenges in preserving drink recipes throughout history. Many recipes were never documented, lost over time, or underwent numerous alterations. This made it challenging to figure out the original formulations. The lack of records poses a difficulty in understanding the precise recipes and methods used in earlier times.

Many of the activities in saloons and hotel bars of early America weren’t documented. This resulted in bigger gaps in what we know about that time. For instance, old-time bartenders had a technique of quickly tossing liquor between glasses while mixing drinks. Despite being well-documented in several sources, modern bartenders haven’t been able to decipher how this technique was precisely executed. The lack of recorded information creates mysteries around historical bartending practices that remain unsolved today.

Bartenders often have a knack for storytelling, and many of their tales about drinks’ origins are likely made-up stories. To trace the history of a cocktail, Wondrich sought the earliest written mentions, usually in newspapers or cocktail manuals. He cross-referenced these with other articles to verify details and timelines. Fact-checking was crucial, especially with bar manuals, as many were hastily compiled and sometimes copied recipes from other sources to make a quick profit. The practice of embellishing or borrowing recipes was common among bartenders in the past. Through his research, David separates fact from fiction in cocktail history research.

What makes David’s cocktail book stand out is its depth and thorough research. What truly will captivate the readers are the fascinating stories the author shares. Bartenders, throughout history, have been notably easygoing and friendly people. Bartenders have played an important role since the early times when humans realized that fermented grain beverages made gatherings more enjoyable. Wondrich’s writing style is clear, engaging, and filled with memorable lines, further enhancing the book’s appeal.

Published in 2003, Stomp and Swerve delves into the early periods of American popular music, shedding light on a time many consider less explored. The musical landscape before the mid-1920s, encompassing names like Scott Joplin, Stephen Foster, Enrico Caruso, and John Philip Sousa, remains unfamiliar to most listeners. It wasn’t until then that a diverse range of American music, urban and rural influences, blending black and white cultures found its way onto records for wider audiences. David Wondrich’s novel aims to revive this forgotten yet vibrant “hot” music, showcasing how it rose to prominence, outlasting sentimental tunes and becoming the precursor to rock ‘n’ roll.

It highlights how the musical instincts of the bygone era resembled those of later iconic figures like Elvis Presley, Louis Armstrong, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, and even Ozzy Osbourne. Exploring ragtime, minstrelsy, blues, jazz, and various musical forms, the book reveals the energy and innovation inherent in these genres. Something akin to the excitement found in funk, jazz, and rock performances.

Wondrich traces the emergence of “hot” music from the mid-19th century to the early 20th century. He defines it by its drive and deviation from traditional tones and beats structures. His writing style is engaging and easy to understand, and the story doesn’t meander from the central argument, keeping the reader hooked to the last page. Nevertheless, the story also uncovers lesser-known musicians who were key to jazz’s development. It also effectively links these musical threads to the eventual evolution of rock ‘n’ roll. Overall, Stomp and Swerve offers an in-depth glimpse into the evolution and impact of the dynamic American music.

Ever thought about the impact of alcohol on history? Exploring history through the lens of alcohol’s influence is quite fascinating. Punch and Serve sheds light on the era before the cocktail became popular when Punch was the go-to drink for about two to three hundred years.
Wondrich gifted us with a well-researched homage to the punch bowl. It is a treasure trove of historical tales, expert insights, tips on methods and ingredients, and a rich collection of top-notch recipes. The story invites readers on a lively journey through the punch bowl’s fascinating history, starting with British sailors and expanding to encompass various characters, including military leaders, nobility, rulers, adventurers, writers, and others.

We need to understand how beverages, especially Punch, played a crucial role in shaping social gatherings, traditions, and even historical events during that lengthy period. The author also offers the reader insights into how drinks like Punch influenced social dynamics, cultural exchanges, and societal norms, providing a unique historical perspective. It unveils a lesser-known but essential aspect of the past when Punch held sway as the favored drink, leaving its mark on various facets of history and human interactions.

David Wondrich, with his unique storytelling style, weaves a tale that’s both delightful and informative. Besides informing the reader about the history of Punch, the novel also aims to entertain, amuse, and ignite the creativity of mixologists and party planners alike. It’s a comprehensive dive into the rich history and diverse characters associated with the world of punches. It is a sure treat for anyone interested in mixology and hosting memorable gatherings.

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