I found a new book to add your personal collection or holiday gift list—Lawyerly Libations, Concoctions for the Counselor, Apéritifs for the Attorney, Elixirs for the Esquire, and Additional Alcoholic Anecdotes: A Cocktail Compilation for the Burgeoning Barrister’s Bar, by Michael J. McCormick.
While the title is a mouthful, and maybe only funny to a lawyer, don’t be dissuaded. The title is a tongue-in-cheek prelude to McCormick’s witty style, through which he showcases cocktail history while diving into related (sometimes tenuously related) legal stories and even more historical context. Better yet, the legal stories often wryly mock the absurdity of lawyers and the law, just like the title.
Lawyerly Libations tells a different story in each of its 21 Chapters (a shout out to the 21st Amendment) paired with 21 classic cocktail recipes. Chapter 7 has one of the best explanations of the Whiskey Rebellion with fun citations to Hamilton: An American Musical along with robust citations and footnotes for anyone interested in a more scholarly approach. Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton wanted to fund the nation’s debt by taxing domestic whiskey production—the infamous Whiskey Tax—which spawned rebellion in western Pennsylvania in 1791, and McCormick tells the rest of the story.
Plus, because using law as a resource wouldn’t be complete without raising a dispute, Lawyerly Libations tees up a fight for the first “American” cocktail. There’s a case to be made for the Old Fashioned, with its sheer simplicity and a recipe contained in the first U.S. cocktail recipe book in 1862. A better case is made for the Mint Julep, with its roots as a Persian tonic (گلاب / gulāb) and its arrival on our shores in the late 17th Century, the innovation of Virginia colonists who made it with mint leaves, and then through the mid-1800’s when ice became more readily available and it became more recognizable to what it is today. And a seemingly weaker case can be made for the Sazerac®, but in typical legal fashion, it’s the Sazerac that secured trademark protection for “America’s First Cocktail®.”
Lawyerly Libations is an entertaining and fast-paced read that has been impeccably researched. Consider it for at-home bartenders, drinks enthusiasts, history buffs, and, of course, lawyers in your life.
Lawyerly Libations, Concoctions for the Counselor, Apéritifs for the Attorney, Elixirs for the Esquire, and Additional Alcoholic Anecdotes: A Cocktail Compilation for the Burgeoning Barrister’s Bar
Author: Michael J. McCormick
Published: July 9, 2022
Purchased on Amazon for $13.99.