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Book Review - Thinking Drinkers

Book Review - Thinking Drinkers


Thinking Drinkers – The Enlightened Imbiber’s Guide to Alcohol

By Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham

Published by Jacqui Small Ltd, 2014

About the Authors
Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham have forged successful careers in the all-encompassing world of alcohol. By not limiting themselves to one concoction or specific tipple, their writings have covered all corners of the liquid globe. This book is the extension of their highly acclaimed comedy show “The Thinking Drinker’s Guide to Alcohol” which debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2011.

“An irreverent look at the social history of drink in all its forms…
fascinating facts, outrageous anecdotes and seriously interesting people.


Initial Thoughts
A quick flick through promises an easy layout with plenty of engaging simplistic drawings interspersed with photographs and detailed timelines. I have high expectations for this book, not only due to the authors’ reputation within the industry, but due to the fact it is trying to encapsulate every facet of drink. No mean feat.

The cover of the book is quirky, entertaining and light-hearted which bodes well for an intriguing read. Published in hardback with heavy shiny paper, this book feels substantial and full of promise. The chapters are split into the defined drinks’ categories which allows you to dip in and out with ease. This is ideal if you’re focusing on a specific segment of the drinks industry, need to look up something or if you simply don’t have the time to read a book from cover to cover and require bite-sized pieces of information which won’t leave you confused when you return.

Content Overview
This book is designed to take you on a journey through the world of beer, wine and spirits. You’ll learn how these drinks first came into being, how our forefathers drank their chosen poison and you’ll get swept up in tales of forgotten treasures, unfortunate escapades and unbelievable truths. A concise, entertaining timeline is provided for each style of drink which is handy for those who like dates and numbers.


What I Liked
Reading about each product made me want to drink them. This book creates or re-ignites a thrilling sense of discovery and adventure which is so exciting. The sections are perfect for flipping through whenever you have a minute, but the theme of anticipation and continuous exploration weaves its way succinctly throughout the whole book, meaning that you will be wanting to read “just one more page”.

You will want to set aside an afternoon to devour this book.


I read large portions in single sittings, moving from one drink to another, (on paper). As I read, I did feel a connection to the liquid and immediately wanted to taste it as I was learning more. The only downside to this is that by reading continuously, my thought process went something like “I want a beer…oh no, now I want a glass of I fancy rum.” I stuck with tea.

What I Disliked
For a book to reach publication and be available for us punters to spend our hard-earned pocket money on a copy, I believe that it should have been thoroughly checked and checked again. One spelling mistake or typing error can be forgiven, I may even overlook two, but when I started noticing errors frequently I decided to note them down. On completing the book, I had 48 errors to highlight. 48.

Aside from this, my only other criticism would be that when you’re reading the book cover to cover, the childish humour and slapstick-style of writing becomes a little irritating.

Thinking Drinkers – The Enlightened Imbiber’s Guide to Alcohol is an accessible source of fun facts and solid information. Whilst you do not need to be fully qualified to understand it, a little background knowledge wouldn’t go amiss. There are interesting tips and unique angles taken, all whilst throwing in a good blend of popular culture. Unfortunately, the sheer quantity of errors did spoil the enjoyment of this book for me – I strongly recommend a reprint!

This book is perfect for reinforcing knowledge and adding some quirky tales to your repertoire.

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