Postcard Rex: Girly Drinks
All grown up and nowhere to drink
Girly Drinks: A World History of Women and Alcohol, Mallory O’Meara
I recently came across this book in the process of researching wine through art history (right after deadline, of course). Drinking history is, perhaps unsurprisingly, filled with muzzy stories that get retold into hyperbolic legends. Trying to tease out the facts from the myths is difficult in any kind of history—add on trying to describe the evolution of attitudes towards gender and alcohol around the world and it’s a gargantuan task. The strength of Mallory O’Meara’s approach is in retelling anecdotes about specific women in specific eras, providing a corrective to mostly white, Western, male-centric drinking stories and weaving them into a larger thesis about how alcohol and its making have played a part in gendered social control in cultures around the world. It’s funny, smart, and compelling, if occasionally a bit scattershot. And it makes for some great stories the next time you walk into a bar.
If you like it
Emma Stokes’ The Periodic Table of Cocktails was one of my first gateway cocktail books. It’s a fun framework to understand the structure and complexity of cocktails, nerd out about their history and styles, and explore making some yourself.
If you don’t
If you just want straightforward recipes without a lot of analysis, Tom Bullock’s pre-Prohibition classic The Ideal Bartender still shakes out delicious drinks. Bullock was a St. Louis bartender and the first Black author to publish a cocktail book in 1917.
Things I’ve written lately:
Can We Still Judge a Romance Novel by its Cover? Electric Literature (….speaking of gendered marketing!)