COOKING & FOOD

Girly Drinks: A World History of Women and Alcohol

Hanover Square Oct. 2022. 384p. ISBN 9781335282408. $27.99. COOKING/HIST
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Starting out with the early days of civilization and moving into the present day, O’Meara (host of the podcast Reading Glasses and author of The Lady from the Black Lagoon) traces a global history of women and alcohol. Readers might think of the “girly drinks” of the title as cocktails with little paper umbrellas, but O’Meara’s is an amusing, feminist history of alcohol that offers insight into distillers, brewers, activists, and leaders throughout history. The book’s 15 well-researched historical accounts include profiles of Cleopatra, Catherine the Great, and Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela, the first Black woman in South Africa to open a microbrewery. The author also discusses the Japanese “belief that a female deity…created the sake making process,” and a history of champagne features Widow Clicquot and Madame de Pompadour (King Louis V’s mistress) who is credited as an influential champagne promoter. O’Meara has interesting insight about One Hundred and One Beverages (1904) by May E. Southworth, which is believed to be the first cocktail book written by a woman. Fun facts abound in O’Meara’s volume, but she also considers more serious matters, like the impact of the temperance movement and American Prohibition.
VERDICT A unique, entertaining resource to bolster culinary and women’s studies collections.
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