Rebellious Spirits : The Illicit History of Booze in Britain
For as long as spirits have existed, there has been someone doing something really naughty with them: selling gin through pipes in a London back alley; standing guard on a Cornish clifftop waiting for a smuggler's signal; or dodging bombs and shrapnel running whisky in the Blitz. It is a history that is thrilling, utterly fascinating and uniquely British.; Packed full of historical recipes, from Milk Punch to a Wartime Martini, along with cocktails from contemporary bartenders, Rebellious Spirits is a treasure trove for the curious drinker.; From the gin dispensed from a cat's paw at the Puss and Mew shop which could have been the world's first vending machine, to whole funeral corteges staged just to move a coffin filled with whisky, the stories show off all the wonderful wit and ingenuity required to stay one drink ahead of the law. The accompanying recipes are just as intriguing: How did we drink gin before tonic? Was punch really made with curdled milk? Or breakfast served with brandy porridge, and gin mixed into hot ale? What did the past really taste like?
by Ruth Ball
Published by Elliot & Thompson 2015
This book is an entertaining read that shines a light on the history and development of the spirit- based industry. Woven into the history are many amusing anecdotes particularly in relation to the attempts to defeat the work of the Excise authorities.
For those who enjoy a tipple there are numerous historical recipes for all sorts of concoctions, which nowadays we would call "cocktails". Some of them sound lethal and some could at least have adversely affected the brain! Helpfully, the writer lists alternatives which are deemed much safer. In the case of some I have tried they are also very pleasant!
Ruth Ball has written a thoroughly informative and witty book. She obviously knows her subject through working in the drinks industry. She is the founder of a company making hand-made liqueurs, is a chemist and is also an author, and has previously worked as a bar tender.
This book is an excellent read, and would be great to take on holiday and enjoy whilst relaxing in the sun enjoying a drink! You could perhaps ask a bartender if he has ever made any of the drinks, or even ask him to make one! Cheers!
Friends of the National Archives