Jul 13, 2021
If there’s anyone in the borough we’d like to grab a drink with, it would be the guy who literally wrote the book on drinking. A couple of them, actually. One of the top spirits writers in the country, David Wondrich is the author of “Imbibe!” and “Punch,” both on the history of the cocktail. But they’re also about so much more: they’re about who poured the drinks, who populated the bars and speakeasies. Through his research, Wondrich, the senior drinks columnist at The Daily Beast, has brought previously extinct cocktails back into circulation.
“So much bar history was lost because bartenders never wrote anything down,” Clover Club and Leyanda co-founder Julie Reiner tells Brooklyn Magazine. “David is the guy who looks at old microfiche at the library, searching for the word ‘cocktail’ in pre-Prohibition newspapers.” In fact, Wondrich even advised Reiner on how to put her own stamp on the Clover Club cocktail that she named her bar for.
For the past decade, Wondrich has been buried back in the microfiche to produce a massive, 1,200-entry “Oxford Companion to Drink” that will likely become the definitive text on the subject. There is an almost frightening academic rigor to his work—which might have something to do with the fact that he holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature.