While some may wonder, “Does the world really need another flavored vodka?” no one answers this question quite so memorably as spirits writer and raconteur Jason Wilson does in Boozehound. (By the way, the short answer is no.) A unique blend of travelogue, spirits history, and recipe collection, Boozehound explores the origins of what we drink and the often surprising reasons behind our choices.
In lieu of odorless, colorless, tasteless spirits, Wilson champions Old World liquors with hard-to-define flavors—a bitter and complex Italian amari, or the ancient, aromatic herbs of Chartreuse, as well as distinctive New World offerings like lively Peruvian pisco. With an eye for adventure, Wilson seeks out visceral experiences at the source of production—visiting fields of spiky agave in Jalisco, entering the heavily and reverently-guarded Jägermeister herb room in Wolfenbüttel, and journeying to the French Alps to determine if mustachioed men in berets really handpick blossoms to make elderflower liqueur.
In addition, Boozehound offers more than fifty drink recipes, from three riffs on the Manhattan to cocktail-geek favorites like the Aviation and the Last Word. These recipes are presented alongside a host of opinionated essays that cherish the rare, uncover the obscure, dethrone the overrated, and unravel the mysteries of taste, trends, and terroir. Through his far-flung, intrepid traveling and tasting, Wilson shows us that perhaps nothing else as entwined with the history of human culture is quite as much fun as booze.
This book would make an excellent gift for anyone who enjoys stepping outside of the box when it comes to imbibing. It is a wonderful introduction into a large variety of alternative beverages from the obscure and hard to find to the easily available but often under-rated. The drink recipes that follow each chapter help whet the appetite, and made me want to rush out to my local store to start picking up ingredients. Best of all, the narrative voice was friendly and approachable- I felt more like the author was sharing a love than teaching a lesson. 5 stars!