The history of spirits in Britain has more illicit in it than licit. Even the official histories of brands that trade heavily on their authentic historical roots are full of gaps and short on detail.
From their beginnings in ancient religious ceremonies, spirits have often been consumed in secret, and as swiftly as they have risen to popularity, they have been suppressed. Their story takes in the first Malt Laws in Scotland, the restriction on gin in Hogarth’s London in the eighteenth century and the bootleggers of the Second World War. Today the state of illicit spirits is a darker and more sobering affair, of foreign gangs and organised crime. But legal versions of the bootlegging experience are flourishing, and the reader is taken on a whistle-stop tour of the best speakeasies to be found.
It is a history that is dark, dangerous and utterly fascinating; this book will not only let people discover that history, but also give them the chance to taste it with authentic recipes. How did we drink gin before tonic? Was punch really made with milk? Or breakfast served with brandy porridge, and gin mixed into hot ale? What did the past really taste like?