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Potions of the Caribbean

Potions of the Caribbean: 500 Years of Tropical Drinks and the People Behind Them strains five centuries of fascinating history through a cocktail shaker, serving up 77 vintage Caribbean drink recipes — 16 of them “lost” recipes that have never before been published anywhere in any form, and another 19 that have never been published in book form.

Even more delicious are the stories of the people who created, or served, or simply drank these drinks. People like William Dampier, the 17th-century “pirate of exquisite mind” who plundered native cities but collected native recipes … José “Sloppy Joe” Abeal, who became an overnight celebrity when Prohibition brought millions of thirsty Americans to his sleepy Havana saloon … Conrad Hilton, the bible-thumping tycoon who used drinking and gambling to kickstart modern Caribbean tourism … mysterious Egyptian mixologist Joe Scialom, who escaped a Cairo prison to bring a new style of cocktail to the islands … restaurateur “Trader Vic” Bergeron, whose faux-Polynesian Tiki drinks turned the West Indies into a surrogate South Pacific … and hard-drinking novelists Ernest Hemingway and Graham Greene, who hated each other almost as much as they loved frozen Daiquiris.

But don’t take our word for it:

“With his new encyclopedic and entertaining ‘Beachbum Berry’s Potions of the Caribbean,’ the tiki expert Jeff Berry distills 500 years of tropical-drink history into 300-plus pages. He takes you from the days of pirates, explorers and sugar plantations to the adventures of those twin purveyors of Polynesian fantasy, Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic, not to mention the forgotten career of the master tiki barman Joe Scialom, who seems to have worked in every swank postwar bar in New York.” — Robert Simonson, THE NEW YORK TIMES

“Berry, one of the instigators of the cocktail revolution, has heretofore confined himself to covering the strange subculture of mid-2oth-century tippling known as tiki. Tiki drinks are a mutation of the rum drinks of the Caribbean, and with this book Berry turns his gifts for research and snappy, incisive prose to the source, chronicling 500 years’ worth of colorful personalities, potent drinks, and bad behavior.” — David Wondrich, ESQUIRE MAGAZINE

“You’ll pick this up for the recipes, but find yourself captivated by the arcana, such as JFK’s preference for daiquiris made with the addition of canned limeade, and the influence of the Panama Canal Zone on tippling trends.” — Wayne Curtis, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

“Tiki historian Jeff Berry’s magnum opus.” — Jim Meehan, NEW YORK MAGAZINE

“He manages to capture an astonishing amount of detail in his tales, the prose effortlessly betraying his screen-writer’s talents for story-telling. He easily paints pictures in your mind’s eye, builds mood and atmosphere, and there’s that familiar mix of humour and considered opinion (Ernest Hemingway created ‘lousy’ drinks, he says). On Cuba and Havana – a city once of 7,000 bars and 270 brothels, he segues from the origins of Sloppy Joe’s bar, to authentic 1930s recipes by El Floridita’s King of the Daiquiri Constante Ribalaigua, to tales of a copulating showman who received magnificent plaudits for his on-stage talents and charged only $1.25 for the privilege. Bravo!” — Ian Cameron, CLASS MAGAZINE

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