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

CO SPECS

RECIPES & HISTORIES OF CLASSIC COCKTAILS

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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Another amiable book that is just what you’d expect from Willie.

WILLIE NELSON'S LETTERS TO AMERICA

An epistolary grab bag of memories, lyrics, jokes, and homespun philosophy from the legendary musician.

As an indefatigable touring artist, Nelson (b. 1933) has had a lot of time on his hands during the pandemic. Following his collaboration with his sister, Me and Sister Bobbie, the road warrior offers a loose collection of lessons from a full life. If you’ve never read a book by or about Nelson, this one—characteristically conversational, inspirational, wise, funny, and meandering—is a good place to start. The book is filled with lyrics to many of his best-known songs, most of which he wrote but others that he has made his own as well. For those steeped in The Tao of Willie (2006), some of the stories will be as familiar as the songs—e.g., the origin story of his nicknames, including Booger Red and Shotgun Willie; his time as a DJ and a door-to-door Bible and encyclopedia salesman; early struggles in Nashville with “all the record executives who only see music as a bottom-line endeavor”; and return to his home state of Texas. Many of the personal stories about family and friends can be found in Me and Sister Bobbie, but they are good stories from a rich life, one of abundance for which Nelson remains profoundly grateful. So he gives thanks in the form of letters: to Texas, America, God, golf, and marijuana; the audiences who have supported him and the band that has had his back; those who have played any part in Farm Aid or his annual Fourth of July concert bashes; and departed friends and deceased heroes, one of whom, Will Rogers, answers him back. Nelson even addresses one to Covid-19, which looms over this book, making the author itchy and antsy. Even at 87, he can’t wait to be on the road again.

Another amiable book that is just what you’d expect from Willie.

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7852-4154-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper Horizon

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

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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