Each of the approximately 30 books in The Edible Series presents an exploration of the history and cultural impact of a variety of foods and beverages, such as pizza, curry, apples, and even pancakes. The latest three volumes in the series focus on gin, rum, and vodka, supplementing one on cocktails in general and another on whiskey. They trace the history of its respective spirit, discuss contemporary trends of consumption, and conclude with recipes and guidance on brands. Each volume is strongly shaped by the voice and skill of its writer, tempered by the particulars of the respective story. Food historian and journalist Foss spins a well-researched tale of the colorful history of rum—rife with pirates, revolution, and palm trees—delightful to read and full of wry wit. Food writer Solmonson (12bottlebar.com) balances the kind of context and detail that will appeal to serious readers with accessible prose, chronicling the evolution of gin as medicine, as a threat to the health and industry of the British lower classes, as staple of the British fleet, and as star of the gin martini. Herlihy (history, emerita, Brown Univ.) presents a more traditional and scholarly history of vodka.
Verdict The well-read foodie who loves a good cocktail will enjoy these little histories and put to use their practical information on recipes and brands as well.—Courtney Greene, Indiana Univ. Lib., Bloomington