One part celebration, one part history, two parts manifesto, Bernard DeVoto’s The Hour is a comic and unequivocal treatise on how and why we drink — properly. The Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author turns his shrewd wit on the spirits and attitudes that cause his stomach to turn and his eyes to roll — warning: this book is not for rum drinkers. DeVoto ins
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There’s no doubt that Mr. DeVoto would consider me an olive-chomping barbarian, a fruity-cocktail-sipping heathen. I’m everything he despises – a woman who loves a good fruity cocktail especially if it has an umbrella or better yet a clear plastic monkey hanging on the edge of the glass by its long skinny tail! But he and I do agree on one thing which is that there is nothing better than getting together with some friends at the violet hour and having a few cocktails. And if someone is going to
In DeVoto’s world there are only two legitimate cocktails – a slug of whiskey and a properly-made martini. And that martini better NOT include olives or shudder onions – cocktails are beverages, not food!
“And I suppose nothing can be done with people who put olives in martinis, presumably because in some desolate childhood hour someone refused them a dill pickle…”
DeVoto has no end of rules about his cocktails and this book is called a manifesto for a reason. With chapter titles like “For the Wayward and Beguiled” and “The Enemy”, you can be sure there’s an agenda here. I suspect he’d become apoplectic by today’s dirty martini. And an appletini would surely do him in.
The book, originally released in 1948, is a bit dated at times but in that kitschy way that Mad Men is dated but thoroughly enjoyable despite or maybe because of its politically incorrect pronouncements and bad behavior. There’s a romance here for a certain way of life that we all know never really existed as anything other than facade but what a fine romance my friends this is.
“For instance, there is a widespread notion that women cannot make martinis, just as some islanders believe that they cast an evil spell on the tribal fishnets. This is a vagrant item of male egotism: the art of the martini is not a sex-linked character.”
Damn straight! I make a kick-ass martini! Think I’ll go make one now – and put three olives in it!