Doctors and Distillers: The Remarkable Medicinal History of Beer, Wine, Spirits, and Cocktails

Books on Tape. Jul. 2022. 9:05 hrs. ISBN 9780593557914. $76. BEVERAGES
Cocktail and spirits writer English’s effervescent debut traces the history of alcohol and medicine, which were long considered one and the same. Post-pandemic, home cocktails are increasingly popular, as is DIY alcohol and a thirst for knowledge about health. While English is quick to point out that treatment is the domain of modern specialists and that many of the past’s assumptions don’t hold up today, it is fascinating to hear about how healing has evolved from antiquity to the present. English occasionally pokes fun at older ideas but never puts on a superior or condescending air. Listeners will enjoy discovering the medicinal origins of their booze of choice, though the focus is mostly on the Western world. Joanna Carpenter narrates with a calm interest, reminiscent of a skilled public lecturer. This makes for an enjoyable listen, particularly as the chapter topics are discrete enough to be taken in satisfying bites. Each chapter ends with a cocktail recipe, which could be useful if listeners are quick to bookmark.
VERDICT This quirky history is both entertaining and informative; an ideal recommendation for anyone who enjoyed Amy Stewart’s Drunken Botanist or Lydia Kang’s Quackery.
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