“When I was in school, I’d dreamed of becoming Ernest Hemingway. Now, I travel and drink and write about my traveling and drinking. Close enough, I guess – though likely closer to the paunchy, boozy, crazy late Hemingway than the younger, dashing one who ran with bulls.”
– an excerpt from Page 2 of Boozehound by Jason Wilson
I first heard about this book when I read an interview with the author in Philadelphia’s City Paper. Within the introductory paragraph alone, I was given three reasons why I had to read this book:
- The author lives in Haddonfield, NJ, which practically makes him my neighbor.
- He is a Professor of English at my alma mater, Drexel University.
- He actually gets paid to drink really good booze, and then write about it for the Washington Post.
I finally received a copy of this book for Christmas, and let me tell you, it was well worth the wait! Boozehound is a travelogue, history lesson, memoir, and bartending guide all rolled into one.
While the focus of the book is rare and unusual spirits from around the world, the author has added a personal element to each of his stories. Whether he is writing about his first experiences with Sambuca as a teenager growing up in South Jersey ( a failed attempt at hooking up with the new girl on the block), his tales of underage “tiki” drinking in Boston’s Chinatown (very similar to my experiences in Philly’s Chinatown when I was under 21), or his meetings with numerous distillers from around the world, Mr. Wilson always manages to make these stories funny, informative, and even inspiring. Why wouldn’t you want to stroll from bar to bar in Milan during “Happy Hour” and sample a wide variety of food and drink, fly to Oslo and try numerous varieties of Norwegian aquavit, or wander the bars and cafes of Amsterdam in search of the best Genever?
Boozehound was a fast, fun, and informative read, and much like Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential, it’s a book that I will definitely recommend to friends.
Categories: Book Review