drink more whiskeyThis smart guide to whiskey introduces a new generation of would-be connoisseurs to the hottest new-again spirit. And with upstart distillers reviving varieties like white dog (moonshine to prohibition-era folks), now is the best time to start learning about it.

Drink More Whiskey is the reference for those want to discover the provenance, styles, differences in quality, and ideal uses of whiskey in a fresh, fun-to-read format. In addition, more than 20 recipes are sprinkled throughout, from classics like the Old Fashioned to thoroughly modern tipples like the Manchester (made from single malt Scotch whisky and fresh herbs), so readers can take their learning from book to glass. (description from publisher)

world's endTwenty years ago Gary King (Simon Pegg) led his four best pals on a “Golden Mile”pub crawl to celebrate the end of their adolescence.  Since then, they have all seemingly moved on with their lives and have found varying levels of success.  Well, all of them except King, who has never even tried to change.

Simon Pegg is always at his best in films he wrote with Edgar Wright and The World’s End is no exception.  Foul-mouthed and drunk, Pegg’s King is delightfully unlikable and yet, it is easy to see why his friends are all willing to join him for one more pub crawl in their hometown of Newton Haven. King and his friends (each with their own royal pun moniker) Andy Knightly (Nick Frost), Oliver Chamberlain (Martin Freeman), Steven Prince (Paddy Considine), and Peter Page (Eddie Marsan) are all drinking their way toward the storied pub, The World’s End. When they arrive in Newton Haven, there are subtle changes to the town that seem to be for the better. But as the night progresses, the changes seem to take a turn for the sinister, and the friends find themselves increasingly in danger.

A huge fan of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, I went into this movie expecting to love it and was not disappointed.  I might even say that it was my favorite of Pegg and Wright’s British bromances disguised as sci-fi and action spoofs.  This movie is funny all the way through, and I’m hoping that it only gets better with repeated viewing.

Do you get psyched about the prospect of panning over black and white photos while a narrator describes what is going on in those photos? If you said, “Yeah, buddy!” then Ken Burn’s brand new Prohibition is for you.

With a total running time of 6 hours, it is relatively digestible as the equivalent of watching three movies. And in all seriousness, these black and white photos featuring denizens of the Jazz Age are truly intriguing. Even more so is the occasional bit of footage of flappers dancing, heaven knows the source.

It is not the documentary for you if your heart bleeds at the sight of innocent glass jugs being blasted apart by Volstead enforcers or the occasional bullet-riddled pinstriped gangster.

Fun Prohibition facts:
“Bad guy” Al Capone financed the soup kitchen that fed thousands on Chicago’s south side as the Great Depression took hold. The best charge the feds could level against Mr. Capone (other than keen business acumen in a market they created) is income tax evasion. Shockingly he didn’t declare all his profits on his 1040-EZ form.

Small cities of Bahamanian freighters would drop anchor three miles off the Atlantic coast to make deliveries to local boats. No one cared.

Many “Dry” congresspeople drank, some even accepting deliveries at the Capitol.

Alcohol consumption increased in some cities.

Some milkmen would deliver hooch to your doorstep in innocuous bottles to streamline the purchasing process.

Numbers exponentially surged for medical whiskey prescriptions and synagogue memberships.

I’ve never watched a documentary from the renowned master, Ken Burns. This was time well spent.

Robert Sellers’ Hellraisers: The life and inebriated times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O’Toole, and Oliver Reed is a well-written new book chronicling the Bacchanalian excesses of this UK theatre version of the Rat Pack from the cradle to the early grave (except for O’Toole).

However, believe you me, there is no way Frank, Dino, or Sammy could have kept up with these guys.  They must have a different kind of craftsmanship of men across the pond…the kind of guy that can ingest literally 4-5 BOTTLES of high octane spirits per day and still memorize lines and stagger to their stage marks.

To be honest, I may not finish because I can only marvel at their cast iron guts for 50-100 pages.  I’m also starting to get a bit queasy.

Everyone’s favorite TV barfly George Wendt makes a foray into the author world in Drinking with George: A Barstool Professional’s Guide to Beer. Before your inner skeptic kicks in, consider this chapter-opening confession from a proud 0.0 GPA recipient during a sojourn at Notre Dame University:

“I’ll be the first to admit that I lucked into the role of Norm Peterson, a character whom I’d been training to play my whole life.

Under one set of covers, Wendt gives you a mini-biography, a slew of interesting beer facts, funny beer anecdotes from his own life, and lighthearted fare regarding his Hollywood friends.  None of these pile up too thick in any of  this collection of 1-4 page essays, so like what the “born-on” date has done for Budweiser products, the book stays fresh.

This title has what is known in some circles as a crisp finish and clean aftertaste.   The funniest and most interesting stories are in about the last third of the liter..er… book.  But, hey, relax.  We’re not talking War and Peace here.  Perfect for the attention span of the mead-swiller in your life.

whiskeyThe publisher’s description of 99 Drams of Whiskey: the Accidental Hedonist’s Quest for the Perfect Shot and the History of the Drink as “part travelogue, part distillery guide, and part history book” is accurate but lacking. This book is fun! It is a great idea for a vacation, to visit whiskey distilleries. Ms. Hopkins kept her book an easy read by balancing the density of history with whiskey tasting notes and anecdotes from her visits to renowned distilleries. I thought I knew about the different whiskeys until I read this book. I need to further my education. Check out her blog where she reviews beer, foods, and all other things.