Publishers Weekly, 2006-05-22 Like a great barroom raconteur, the author of this engaging treatise regales his audience with piquant opinions, colorful trivia, lush rhetorical turns ("[t]he first taste washes over me and brings to mind the scene in Wizard of Oz in which the black-and-white world suddenly bursts into color") and an exalted, occasionally inflated, sense of liquor's place in the greater scheme of things. A travel writer and contributing editor to Preservation, Curtis follows rum's checkered 400-year career through various incarnations, from the cheap, caustic "kill-devil" that fortified 17th-century pirates (Blackbeard was said to enjoy a glass of flaming rum mixed with gunpowder) to today's mojitos, made from palatable, if bland, mass market rums. His profiles of rum-based cocktails (with an all-important appendix of recipes) serve as starting points for excursions on such topics as slavery in the West Indies, the temperance movement, Ernest Hemingway's epic daiquiri binges and the rise and fall of the tiki bar. Curtis's grander pronouncements ("Rum embodies America's laissez-faire attitude: It is whatever it wants to be") are true only in the groggiest sense, but readers who come along on this charming barhop through cultural history will toast them nonetheless. (July) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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