A Good Drink
6 x 9
6 x 9
“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.
"Insightful tour de force… Farrell’s writing is as informative as it is intoxicating"
"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
"Spirit enthusiasts are long overdue for this thoughtful exploration of what really goes into the bottles of our favorite liquors. Shanna Farrell's empathetic inquiry in her search for a good drink pushes us to reconsider how what we imbibe impacts our ecosystem, the cultural narratives we choose to preserve, and who gets to participate in the industry's innovation. Farrell's outlook is frank, yet hopeful; her effort here is sure to propel systemic transformation and thankfully, better drinks."
Osayi Endolyn, James Beard Award-winning writer and co-author of The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food
"For those of us who imbibe, what is better than a learned guide - bartender or otherwise - who can lead us to the right bottle? With agriculture, ecology, and the future of our planet in mind, Shanna Farrell has gone out in a spirited search for a good drink. Drinkers and distillers should follow."
Wyatt Williams, author of Springer Mountain
Introduction. In Pursuit of Sustainable Spirits
Chapter 1. Whiskey
Chapter 2. Agave
Chapter 3. Gin and Vodka
Chapter 4. Rum
Chapter 5. Brandy
Chapter 6. Bartenders
Chapter 7. Scale
Conclusion. This Is Not the End
About the Author
Shanna Farrell is an interviewer at UC Berkeley's Oral History Center, where she works on a wide variety of projects and specializes in contemporary cocktail culture. She is the author of Bay Area Cocktails: A History of Culture, Community, and Craft.
In her new book, A Good Drink, Farrell goes in search of the bars, distillers, and farmers who are driving a transformation to sustainable spirits. These individuals are part of a growing trend to recognize spirits for what they are—part of our food system. For those 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.
Moderated by Dave White, deputy director of the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation.
You can purchase A Good Drink from the independently owned Changing Hands Bookstore, HERE.
When?: Thursday, January 20th from 3-4 PM Eastern
What?: Sustainability operates on a continuum. There are a multitude of ways distillers can improve their impact on the environment. From expanding relationships with local farms and upgrading their facilities to practicing better waste management and focusing on packaging and the downstream effects of their products.
In her new book, A Good Drink: In Pursuit of Sustainable Spirits, Shanna Farrell goes in search of the bars, distillers, and farmers who are driving a transformation to sustainable spirits. These individuals are part of a growing trend to recognize spirits for what they are—part of our food system. With this revelation she also unveils the importance of spirit makers committing to sustainability.
Shanna will be joined by Scott and Ann from High Wire Distilling Co. in a conversation on January 20 as they discuss the book, give examples of distillers working in more environmentally minded ways, and provide some actionable items that distillers can take to reach their sustainability goals.
Who?: Shanna Farrell is an interviewer, writer, and audio producer. She is an interviewer at UC Berkeley’s Oral History Center, where she works on a wide variety of projects and specializes in contemporary cocktail culture. She is the author of Bay Area Cocktails: A History of Culture, Community, and Craft. Her writing has appeared in Imbibe magazine, Life & Thyme, PUNCH, Distilled Stories, The San Francisco Chronicle, Edible San Francisco, Edible East Bay, Berkeley side Nosh, and the Oral History Review. You can occasionally hear her on the airwaves on shows like Gravy and The Prix Fixe.
How Much?: $59 for non-members, free to American Craft Spirits Association members
Read the Introduction and Chapter 1. Whiskey below or download it here.