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Sunday, 26 April 2015 11:29

The Field Guide to Drinking in America

Field Guide to Drinking Cover Low Rez 194x300

By Niki Ganong

2015 by Overcup Press

ISBN 978-0-9834917 2-9

Soft Cover 228 pages $19.99

 

Drinking in America carries the subtitle “A Traveler’s Handbook to State Liquor Laws.” It does a good job of recounting essential information for all 50 states, summarized in quick reference What you Can Do and What You Can’t Do sections for each. Such comprehensive information might justify buying the book. If you travel a lot, this could be pretty useful.

Valuable as this research could be to someone who’s on the road, Drinking in America provides much more that is entertaining, as well as informative. Where else would you learn about the White Horse Tavern in Newport, Rhode Island? Still open today, it was established in 1673 and is reputed to have served colonists, British soldiers and Hessian mercenaries.

Would you have known that New Mexico has the longest history of wine production in the U.S.? Wine grapes were planted in the Rio Grande Valley by Franciscans in 1629 for the production of altar wine and by 1800 the area was producing more than one million gallons of wine a year.

For those who’ve not visited North Carolina, the words Outer Banks might bring to mind only hurricanes and striped bass fishing, but after reading Niki Ganong’s book, they’ll also be aware that the area is home to Brew Thru, a chain of drive-through beer stores where thirsty customers can have beer placed in their car trunks by attendants and complete the transaction without their having to leave the driver’s seat. Drive-through liquor sales are also legal in Wyoming and kids can drink alcohol in that beacon of freedom, but only in the presence of a parent or legal guardian.

Suds fans seem to have it good in Minnesota, where they avail themselves of self-serve beer machines at the Twins’ Target Field. Bud and Bud Light are said to go for 38 cents an ounce, with Shock Top and Goose Island at a couple pennies more.

In Alabama, the cities of Montgomery and Mobile are emulating New Orleans’ French Quarter in creating “entertainment districts,” where citizens can wander through parts of downtown with open containers of liquor.

Is this kind of esoteric information necessary preface to traveling in America? Well, no, not really. Nor is it essential to find that the Latin motto of West Virginia is Montani Semper Liberi (Mountaineers Are Always Free), or that the state of Washington motto is Al-ki (Chinook for “Hope for the Future”). However, the Field Guide to Drinking in America delivers more than just a dry recitation of the can-and-can’t-do options and we found it fun reading. The writing and graphics are lively and invite a vicarious visit to a few states each time the book is picked up, rather than a more plodding cover-to-cover read.

 

--reviewed by Dan Clarke