Thirsty Reading: Chasing The White Dog, by Max Watman

Have you chased the white dog? Max Watman has, and he somehow manages to live to tell the tale(s). Hunting down hidden stills. Riding shotgun with a NASCAR legend whose success had a little something to do with his previous experience with moonshine. Building a patched-together home still that just might explode at any moment, in hopes that it might turn out a few drops of precious likker. Chasing the White Dog: An Amateur Outlaw’s Adventures in Moonshine lets you in on the chase, a chase that weaves from the shadows of the Smoky mountains to rural courtrooms to blighted urban landscapes, all touched by the white dog. It’s a mishmash of history lessons, hidden recipes, wild stories, and criminal whodunits that will leave you both fascinated by the possibility of the mythic moonshine and horrified by the reality of what it can leave in its wake.  And it’s simply a great read for anyone who has ever had an itch to chase the white dog.

You can pick up the book for a steal over at Amazon, and the paperback is on its way to stores next week. In fact, thanks to the publisher, we have one brand-spankin-new paperback copy to give away to a lucky reader. Just leave a comment below with your favorite name for moonshine (AKA mountain dew, white lightnin, white dog, etc.) by February 16, 2011, and we’ll randomly choose a winner from all the entries. Let the chase begin…

UPDATE – 2/17/2011: We have a winner! “Speedmaster” will now be Chasing The White Dog

Do You Drink Like An Old Man?

Do you drink like an old man? Well? Do you, punk? I guess it depends on the old man in question. For Robert Schnakenberg, who wrote Old Man Drinks: Recipes, Advice, and Barstool Wisdom, drinking like an old man means favoring classic cocktails – imagine Don Draper from Mad Men forty years older, aging poorly, hanging out at the smokey corner bar down the street, still drinking the same old Manhattans and Old-Fashioneds. It seems like there are several thousand cocktail books out there these days, but this one clearly has a unique point of view – that of the grumpy old man. Mixed in with the 70 or so cocktail recipes are photos of and quotes from the type of salty old guys who populate those smokey corner bars, complaining about the vodka and red bull and appletinis all around them. Dry Mahoney, Grumpy Old Man, Rusty Nail, Harvey Wallbanger, Salty Dog – the names could describe the cocktails or the old men themselves equally well.

A good friend of mine has tackled the book with gusto in recent weeks, well on his way to “Old Man-hood,” and has been taking photos of his cocktail exploits and sharing them on Twitter (a not so “old man” thing to do, admittedly). I can’t help but head over to my home bar each time I see one of these photos, so spellbinding in their directness and ability to capture the essence of drinking like an old man. I have to admit, I’m pretty darn close to drinking like an old man myself. Enjoy…

Photos courtesy of Rowdyfood. Full flickr photo set here. Thanks to Robert Schnakenberg for the inspiration!


Thirsty Reading: Boozehound, by Jason Wilson

See this book? The one with the multitude of darkly enticing bottles and casks on the cover? This is a dangerous book. A book that will cost you dearly. A book that will drive you to drink. A book that just may turn you off vodka forever (OK, that last part is not so dangerous).

Boozehound: On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits by Jason Wilson is dangerous not because of its somewhat subversive stories of what constitutes a good drink, but rather because it will likely compel any fan of spirits and cocktails into the dangerous realm of obsession that the author clearly occupies. A world where chasing down rare brandies or long forgotten liqueurs is a path to wallet depleting joy and illumination.

Mr. Wilson finds a way of weaving tales that will leave you tipsy and laughing and thirsty for more. The book is literally a tour through some of the world’s great libations, their history, their path through glorious popularity or confounding decline. A jaunt into the agave fields of Mexico juts up against a tale of teenage tippling in suburban New Jersey. Secret formulas of herbs and uncommon ingredients are juxtaposed against the hyperbolic and highly suspect modern marketing “backstories” that seem to come with every new bottle on the liquor store shelf. Cocktail recipes appear at the end of each chapter to entice the mind, to further the already deeply felt urges that the stories implant – WHERE can I track down that rare Calvados, HOW can I live without that Creme de Violette, WHY is my collection of Italian Amari so minuscule???

Beware. Reading Boozehound is dangerous stuff. Now I better get over to the liquor store to pick up my bottles of Dubonnet, Benedictine, Amaro Montenegro, Creme Yvette, Luxardo Maraschino, rhum agricole…