Tuesday, January 28, 2014

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My New Book: Drugstore Whiskey, Pharmacy Gin

You've heard of bathtub gin, sure. Everyone has. The stuff has become shorthand for the legendary horrors of Prohibition-era drinking. But what was it? No, for real: what was that stuff — and was it always a horror? Where did it come from? Where did it go?

A peek inside.
Kornschärfe: It schärfes the Korn.
Though it may seem as if the action has slowed around here, the truth is that behind the scenes at the Whiskey Forge has been hectic as I've been writing for various magazines, traveling, giving talks around the country, and getting elbow-deep in several book projects. This morning, I woke to a tweet from Bitters author Brad Thomas Parsons congratulating me on the announcements for one of those books.

Here's the deal: I have a contract with Countryman Press, a branch of W.W. Norton, for a new book tentatively called Drugstore Whiskey, Pharmacy Gin that will hit the shelves in 2015. Eater reports "Veteran booze writer and author Matthew Rowley is at it again, this time turning his attentions to the recipes of the Prohibition bootleggers." Publishers Marketplace gives a little more:
Author and historian Matthew Rowley (Moonshine!, 2007) continues his exploration of illicit alcohol and cocktail culture in Drugstore Whiskey, Pharmacy Gin: Making It and Faking It with 200 Secret Booze Recipes from the Height of Prohibition. Using high-resolution images from a secret 1920’s manuscript, Rowley examines the traditions, ingredients, and cultural context of Prohibition bootlegging with extensive annotations and over 200 recipes. Sold to Ann Treistman at Countryman Press by Lisa Ekus of The Lisa Ekus Group. Publication Fall 2015.
If you've come to any of my talks over the last six months or so, you already know a bit about this since I've been using some of the material when kicking around notions of Prohibition-era urban moonshine. Years ago, I was given a gift: a 1920's manuscript hidden within what looked like a book of poetry. It wasn't. Rather, the book held page after page of handwritten recipes — in English, German, and occasional Latin — for gins, genevers, absinthes, whiskeys, rums, brandies, and dozens of spirits and cordials, essences and extracts, all tied to New York City at the height of Prohibition. Some recipes are for genuine articles. Others hail from an earlier era, a time when traditional beverages relied on herbs and spices for their flavors. Still others depend on 19th century advances in applied chemistry simply to fake some spirits and "enhance" others.

It'll be cool. Even most bartenders hip to vintage drinks haven't seen anything quite like this.


Lucindaville said...

Excellent! Can't wait.

sam k said...

My thoughts precisely, Lucindaville!

Matthew Rowley said...

You two will forgive me, I hope, if I am absent here for the next several months; I'll have my face buried in old books and beakers.