How to Drink by Victoria Moore

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How to Drink by Victoria Moore

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Category: Lifestyle
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Unless you're teetotal this book is an absolute gem with advice on what to drink, when and what with. There are some non-alcoholic drinks but others are in the majority. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: May 2009
Publisher: Granta
ISBN: 978-1847080202

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A friend who saw me reading this book was moved to ask if I really needed the advice and was quite surprised when I explained that it was about the whole range of liquid intake from the humble glass of warm water (try it – it's wonderful first thing in the morning) to rare spirits costing hundreds of pounds a bottle. It's completely unpreachy with not a word about how much liquid you should be taking in each day to how few units you should be consuming each week. It's about getting the best (which isn't always the most expensive) and enjoying it – and most importantly, enjoying a drink when that's the drink you want.

Over recent years we've become far more sophisticated about the food we eat, but we're taking a little longer to catch up with our liquid intake. This isn't just a book to get you started on the journey – it's going to be a work of reference for years to come.

The format of the book is deceptively simple. There are some basics you'll need to check that you have covered – the bottles you should consider having in the store cupboard and fresh fruit to have available. I was worried that I might find that I'm really not well-enough equipped with the proper glasses but it was refreshing to realise that I could probably manage with a smaller range than I have. Other equipment is also sensibly limited. There's also some good advice about ice and the basics that you need to know about wine, including the glasses that you should use and how to store it.

Breakfast and Brunch gives some excellent advice on making a tea – and I was jumping up and down with delight when I saw, in black and white, that tea should be made with freshly-drawn and just boiled water. I've given up drinking tea outside the home because I'd rather not have tea made with water that's left over from the last time that the kettle was boiled, or that's been simmering in a boiler for hours. There's similar basic advice about buying and making coffee, although we might part company on the benefits of the domestic espresso machine. I wouldn't go so far as to say that Victoria Moore is wrong – it's just that I would have to be surgically separated from my machine.

There are some wonderful recipes for juices and smoothies and all without the need for an expensive juicer. It's amazing what can be produced with the aid of a hand blender.

After the basics are out of the way we move on to a look at drinks for each season. The bulk of these are alcoholic, but the emphasis is on what's appropriate for the time of year and to accompany the food that you'll be eating. As well as recipes for drinks there are some gems for food too. It's in these four sections that you appreciate just how good a writer Victoria Moore really is. Her style is chatty and informative – a great deal of information is conveyed without you realising that you're actually learning and there were occasions when I laughed out loud. Talking about making a bellini and the type of peach you should use she adds the advice If you are even considering using tinned, then go throw yourself in a canal. It's occasionally gossipy with some interesting thoughts on the drinking habits of the royal family.

I've never been quite sure how to make a martini and the section on Year-round show-stoppers took me through this in easy stages. Reassuringly I found that I did know how to make the perfect gin and tonic.

There's a gem right at the end with five useful lists. Alcohol free drinks which don't feel abstemious is a real treasure both for those days when there's good reason not to drink alcohol and for visitors who don't indulge. The other gem for me is Drinks for non-beer drinkers to order in pubs. Like Victoria Moore I'm not that keen on beer, don't particularly want to be downing neat spirits and resent the fact that someone is paying for poor wine. There's something in her list for most tastes.

I knew that this book would be good, that it would be interesting. What I hadn't expected that it would prove to be so readable and so informative. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to Bookbag.

If this book appeals to you then we think that you might also enjoy Cupboard Love by Laura Lockington. For something to do when you're not drinking, try 101 Things To Do When You're Not Drinking by Robert Short. You might also like to take a look at Winter Cocktails: Mulled Ciders, Hot Toddies, Punches, Pitchers, and Cocktail Party Snacks by Maria Del Mar Sacasa and Tara Striano.

Booklists.jpg How to Drink by Victoria Moore is in the Bookbag's Christmas Gift Recommendations 2009.

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Buy How to Drink by Victoria Moore at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy How to Drink by Victoria Moore at


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Magda said:

It appeals very much :-) .... even though we drink rather little and in bursts.

Re: coffee machine - we have just killed ours (very likely through lack of maintenance, NOTHING in this household gets maintained apart from the boiler which is done by the estate that's the landlord) - and was wondering if you had a recommendation?

I like proper coffee with crema, nobody here drinks cappucino, we are not sophisticated enough to grind own beans, and the number of cups made a day would be at least 10, depending on how good it is (I only drink coffee if it's good, Alex drinks it regardless).

As for now we do "Polish coffee" (as in cafetiere but minus the plunger - just be carfeul about the dregs). I don't like percolator things, and not really filter things either.

Sue replied:

We have a Kitchen Aid, Magda, but I'm not certain that I would recommend it. We're on our third machine - two having been replaced under warranty - and we're treating this with kid gloves. It does make an excellent espresso though - with the most wonderful crema - and that's my tipple. Peter loves a Cappuchino - and I can now make those to coffee shop standard with little bother.

I've never got on with filter machines - Victoria Moore makes the point in the book about how dreadful the coffee is when it's been standing on the hot plate for a while and I have to agree. Percolators always made me nervous!