In recent years, some of the best regular drink writing in the country has appeared in the unlikely venue of the Wall Street Journal. Written by Eric Felten—who's moonlighting from his career as a successful jazz musician and bandleader to pen the column—"How's Your Drink" addresses cocktails ranging from classic to modern to wildly obscure, exploring each drink's composition as well as its larger role in history, culture and politics.
Now, Felten's elegant writing on drinks is available to those who don't regularly pony up the cash for a journal subscription. How's Your Drink? (Agate Surrey, $20) -- which has a launch date of November 26—gives Felten plenty of room to roam about the world of libations. As befits a writer who lives in Washington, D.C., Felten devotes plenty of ink to the role drinks have played in politics, ranging from the first definition of the word "cocktail" in print—which appeared in a backhanded comment about Democratic politics—to Teddy Roosevelt's courtroom testimony about drinking mint juleps to the way an order for a gin and tonic served to underscore the absurdity of the Cold War during a summit between Kennedy and British P.M. Harold Macmillan in 1961. Felten also paints the scene for modern mixology, through encounters with contemporaries such as Lucy Brennan and Charlotte Voisey, and throughout the book he reaches deep into literature, motion pictures and pop culture to illustrate the era in which each drink is an integral part.
It's easy to see spirituous drinks as simply another type of liquid refreshment; with How's Your Drink?, Felten reveals the world of culture and history that accompanies each sip from the glass.
About the author: Paul Clarke blogs about cocktails at The Cocktail Chronicles and writes regularly on spirits and cocktails for Imbibe magazine. He lives in Seattle, where he works as a writer and magazine editor.