Rough Spirits and High Society


The Culture of Drink.A book exploring the forgotten stories behind coffee houses, tea shops and taverns, which collects the fascinating and surprising histories of drinking establishments and their legacies. Written by the founder and Head Alchemist at handmade liqueur company Alchemist Dreams.

Product details

The tavern, the inn, the coffee house, the tea shop: these are places where, throughout history, we have met and socialised and where the issues of the day could be discussed over a drink.

Rough Spirits and High Society shows the surprising, often subversive ways in which drinking has changed the world, and the ways in which society has struggled to control the places where people drink. Postal services developed between networks of inns and enabled modern communication. The first insurance companies were created in the coffee houses. Gin palaces prompted moral outrage. The suffragette movement found its birthplace in tea shops which allowed women to meet across social classes. This generously illustrated book unveils the little-known ways that drinks, whether alcoholic or caffeinated, have found their place at the centre of our social and political lives.

About the Author: Ruth Ball is the award-nominated author of Rebellious Spirits: An Illicit History of Spirits in Britain. She is also the founder and Head Alchemist at Alchemist Dreams, a company dedicated to making handmade liqueurs blended to order.

Ruth Ball
British Library
Publication date
October 2017
176 pages
240 x 165 mm

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