A Good Drink: In Pursuit of Sustainable Spirits
“Insightful tour de force… Farrell’s writing is as informative as it is intoxicating” -- Publishers Weekly
Shanna Farrell loves a good drink. As a bartender, she not only poured spirits, but learned their stories—who made them and how. Living in San Francisco, surrounded by farm-to-table restaurants and high-end bars, she wondered why the eco-consciousness devoted to food didn’t extend to drinks.
The short answer is that we don’t think of spirits as food. But whether it's rum, brandy, whiskey, or tequila, drinks are distilled from the same crops that end up on our tables. Most are grown with chemicals that cause pesticide resistance and pollute waterways, and distilling itself requires huge volumes of water. Even bars are notorious for generating mountains of trash. The good news is that while the good drink movement is far behind the good food movement, it is emerging.
In A Good Drink, Farrell goes in search of the bars, distillers, and farmers who are driving a transformation to sustainable spirits. She meets mezcaleros in Guadalajara who are working to preserve traditional ways of producing mezcal, for the health of the local land, the wallets of the local farmers, and the culture of the community. She visits distillers in South Carolina who are bringing a rare variety of corn back from near extinction to make one of the most sought-after bourbons in the world. She meets a London bar owner who has eliminated individual bottles and ice, acculturating drinkers to a new definition of luxury.
These individuals are part of a growing trend to recognize spirits for what they are—part of our food system. For readers who have ever wondered who grew the pears that went into their brandy or why their cocktail is an unnatural shade of red, A Good Drink will be an eye-opening tour of the spirits industry. For anyone who cares about the future of the planet, it offers a hopeful vision of change, one pour at a time.
Praise for A Good Drink: In Pursuit of Sustainable Spirits
“Insightful tour de force… Farrell’s writing is as informative as it is intoxicating”
— Publishers Weekly
"This approachable and delightfully written book is an informative way to better understand agricultural and environmental issues and how our choices in spirits can have powerful, although often unseen, effects on the ecosystem… A Good Drink is an inspirational collection of the many contributions by many thousands of people in this industry who are serious about sustainability and about protecting the future of our planet."
"This is an important entry in an ongoing conversation."
— Edible Inland Northwest
“Approachable and hopeful. The engaging stories of work across the sectors to improve sustainability offers insight into the current state of the spirit production, as well as suggestions for the paths forward. This book therefore has broad popular appeal, and will entertain and inform those of us who drink spirits.”
— Agriculture and Human Values