Book Report: Southern Spirits by Robert F. Moss

Four Hundred Years of Drinking in the American South, with Recipes

The South isn’t all sweet tea and enchanting drawls. It’s got a long and slightly complicated, but incredibly interesting history with alcohol. And thanks to Robert Moss, the history is one you can learn about while making the actual Southern spirit. This isn’t your Momma’s mint julep. It’s the actual history of the hard ones thrown back by our ancestors.

Starting each section is a recipe and while I didn’t have the opportunity to partake myself, it would be perfect to create and sip on each cocktail while reading about it’s main ingredient. The purpose of Southern Spirits is to highlight what we drink and why (or in some cases, how it was made), the book gives such a great glimpse into the historical South, that both drinkers and those who abstain will both be intrigued and delighted. There’s no softening of the facts and Moss doesn’t hesitate to take on incorrect perceptions or knock a tall tale down to size.

I’m not sure if there is any other book nearly as complete as Southern Spirits for the social and drinking culture of the American South, but I doubt there is another that is as charming. By avoiding reading like a history book, it’s easy to get engrossed and read almost a hundred pages before finally giving in and tracking down everything needed to make an Antebellum Mint Julep. I personally enjoyed the sections on New Orleans and the North Georgia Moonshine War (who knew) the most. I recommend picking up a copy and indulging.

four out of five

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