A sparkling handbook for bartenders and aficionados, full of intriguing information and literary charm.



Readers can bone up on the lore of iconic cocktails while they learn how to make them with this mixological primer.

Oh, a London bartender, offers an encyclopedic overview of noted drinks, from the absinthe frappé (concocted of absinthe, sugar syrup, and soda water) to the zombie (a symphony of gold rum, Jamaican rum, Demarra rum, lime juice, falernum, absinthe, angostura bitters, grenadine, white grapefruit juice, and cinnamon syrup). The author tackles icons like the Manhattan and the margarita along with obscure gems like the monkey gland, which was inspired, it is averred, by a Russian doctor who pioneered primate-to-human testicle transplants. Each alphabetical entry gives simple recipes for making the drink and its major variants along with deep drafts of backstory on its origins and naming quirks—the Alaska was invented in South Carolina, it seems, and the coffee cocktail has no coffee—as well as the bartender(s) who developed it and famous barflies who imbibed it. Hemingway, of course, is the book’s presiding spirit. Readers meet him drinking mojitos at La Bodeguita, daiquiris at El Floridita, and Bellinis at Harry’s Bar in Venice and composing his own cocktail, the Death in the Afternoon, from absinthe and Champagne. Like any good barroom discourse, Oh’s beguiling work happily dives into arcane trivia. “Martin Cate makes a compelling case that the Martinique style rum Vic was talking about was not the AOC rhum agricoles we assume from Martinique (made with pressed sugar cane juice) but rather molasses based ‘rhum traditionnels,’ ” the author explains in a passage on the provenance of the mai tai that will satisfy the cognoscenti. But his writing finds poetry in every aspect of a drink, from the serving temperature (“An ice-cold Martini is like the first sip of water for a desert strandee—nectar from the gods; a warm one is a human rights violation”) to mixing techniques (“Always stir a Martini; it should be limpid, liquid silk—not aerated and light from shaking”). The volume is also a feast for the eyes, with color photographs by Bragg and an amber color scheme that draws the eye like the glowing depths of a whiskey bottle. Readers will savor Oh’s prose as much as they do the libations that flow from his recipes.

A sparkling handbook for bartenders and aficionados, full of intriguing information and literary charm.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-91-621550-4

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

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The Harvard historian and Texas native demonstrates what the holiday means to her and to the rest of the nation.

Initially celebrated primarily by Black Texans, Juneteenth refers to June 19, 1865, when a Union general arrived in Galveston to proclaim the end of slavery with the defeat of the Confederacy. If only history were that simple. In her latest, Gordon-Reed, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and numerous other honors, describes how Whites raged and committed violence against celebratory Blacks as racism in Texas and across the country continued to spread through segregation, Jim Crow laws, and separate-but-equal rationalizations. As Gordon-Reed amply shows in this smooth combination of memoir, essay, and history, such racism is by no means a thing of the past, even as Juneteenth has come to be celebrated by all of Texas and throughout the U.S. The Galveston announcement, notes the author, came well after the Emancipation Proclamation but before the ratification of the 13th Amendment. Though Gordon-Reed writes fondly of her native state, especially the strong familial ties and sense of community, she acknowledges her challenges as a woman of color in a state where “the image of Texas has a gender and a race: “Texas is a White man.” The author astutely explores “what that means for everyone who lives in Texas and is not a White man.” With all of its diversity and geographic expanse, Texas also has a singular history—as part of Mexico, as its own republic from 1836 to 1846, and as a place that “has connections to people of African descent that go back centuries.” All of this provides context for the uniqueness of this historical moment, which Gordon-Reed explores with her characteristic rigor and insight.

A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63149-883-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...


A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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