This week’s pick for Literary Monday is Boozehound – On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure and the Overrated in Spirits. The title pretty much sums up the author’s booze journey over the last 25 years that is chronicled in his tome. As the current spirits columnist for the Washington Post, the former food writer to the Philadelphia Magazine, the editor to The Best American Travel Writing series and a contributor to many a magazine, Jason Wilson has been on a journey that most of us can only dream about. I salivate at the thought of his expense account and all the glorious booze that can purchase.
In Boozehound, Mr. Wilson traces his humble drinking origins back to his parent’s liquor cabinet where he was quite fond of the bottle of Sambuca, an anise flavored liqueur, that remained relatively untouched in high school. He charts his path onto college, an enlightening experience with a mentor who ordered him his first Stinger and a college trip through Europe. Not stopping, Mr. Wilson then regales us of tales from his time as a spirits writer traipsing through distilleries, going to booze festivals and stops along the way in many drinking establishments, famous and otherwise.
Mr. Wilson is a skilled writer. You feel like you are accompanying him on his journey. I could almost taste the aquavit on a trip to Norway, feel the sun upon my face on a trip to Jalisco to tour tequila distilleries and watch the crowds pass by the outdoor cafe as I sat sipping my Negroni in Milan. If you have any interest in discovering new regions or learning about booze in a new and interesting way, then I would recommend giving this book a good read. While I thoroughly enjoyed the entire book, my absolute favorite part was alcohol archeology, or liquor store archeology, a game that I was once prone to playing myself. Alcohol archeology involves the hunt in the most dusty regions of a liquor store for the most obscure, and often, no longer produced booze. Mr. Wilson was lucky enough to play it in the cellars of Berry Brothers and Rudd, purveyors of alcohol to the Queen and which has been in existence since 1698.