cover image Big Shots: The Men Behind the Booze

Big Shots: The Men Behind the Booze

A. J. Baime / Author New American Library $11.95 (161p) ISBN 9

Liquor brims with history, and Baime pours it neatly into this fittingly flask-sized handbook for barflies. Written in the irreverent tone of Maxim magazine, in which the former senior editor published early musings on the topic, this raucous manual reads like an ode to a lad's drinking buddies: Johnnie Walker, Seagram, Smirnoff and the swashbuckling, hollow-legged pirate, Captain Morgan (who never produced a drop, but drank himself to death). The stories scan the globe and cover four centuries--from Prohibition-era Kentucky to 17th-century Jamaica to the dairy farms of Ireland--introducing readers to the families and marketing wizards behind the world's best-selling labels. Despite its slim size, this compilation packs a wealth of trivia in intermittent tables and sidebars, such as""Tequila vs. Mezcal"" (there are many differences in the distilling processes, but the latter is unregulated and sometimes has a worm in it), or""Rum Deconstructed"" (which breaks down the various distillations of rums according to their fire power and flavor). Baime also recounts liquor-influenced history, like the""gin craze"" that transformed 18th-century London""neighborhoods into ghettos, mothers into whores, and children and fathers into sloths and murders"" or the CIA and a Bacardi CEO's collusion to""take out"" Fidel Castro in the 1960s. Infused with Baime's own bleary-eyed accounts and flavored with favorite drink recipes, this spirited""guy's guide"" will make a great stocking stuffer or groomsman gift.""If nothing else, you'll be the most enlightened person in the bar. And that's worth drinking to.""