Booze for Babes: The Smart Woman's Guide to Drinking Spirits Right

Booze For Babes
Booze For Babes

It's the 21st Century.  Sad to think that a book titled Booze for Babes: The Smart Woman's Guide To Drinking Spirits Right has to exist. But it does. Why?

Well, because... they don't teach this stuff in school; because not every drinker has the privilege of having an older friend or sibling to show them the right way to imbibe; because while men's lifestyle magazines are great at giving pointers about adeptly navigating the drinking life most of the women's books feature cutesy bottles of wine if they talk much about drinking at all; because we live in a world where chefs are being called "gods" on the cover story of one iconic news magazine which barely mentions female chefs' contributions to restaurant kitchens; because author Kayleigh Kulp felt the sting of every bad liquor ad geared towards women which seemed to relegate women's tastes to the pink and frilly corner.

In Kulp's estimation, the liquor industry has failed women when it comes to drinking and she was ready for that to come to a quick halt.  Even if she had to instigate it herself by writing and publishing a guide to spirits.  She explains, "The book stems from the fact that women have been marketed down to by the spirits companies and marginalized over history in 'drinking society.'" Much like the old Virginia Slims tagline "You've Come A Long Way Baby" purported to advance women's appreciation of cigarettes, liquor advertising seems to promote "women's tastes" but it mostly ignores the fact that some women can appreciate a good strong drink.

Especially those that find great pleasure in fine food and wine.  It is for them, and their less informed friends, that Kulp puts forth this book. Far from a drunken feminist manifesto, Kulp's manual, which begins with a forward from the New York chapter President of LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails) and Speed Rack co-founder, Lynnette Marrero, merrily dives into the history of women behind bars and asserts their rightful place in this world.

In the cheery tone you'd expect from your favorite sorority sister, or best pal, Booze for Babes brightly covers the basics and then dives into details of liquor categories from the expected to the specialty spirits.

Don't be fooled by her lighthearted tone.  What's good for the goose is good for the gander; so not-so-knowledgeable drinking men and women alike will enjoy these chapters on how to choose a quality gin, whiskey, rum, tequila, brandy, vodka or liqueur, and look cool doing it; how to tell a marketing ploy on a label from the real deal; how to train your palate and hone your taste; how to mix business and booze; how to build a well-equipped home bar; how to entertain with spirits in a way that honors old-fashioned traditions and impresses guests; and the dozens of recipes for cocktails, bitters, vermouth, liqueurs, and more.

Kayleigh Kulp
Kayleigh Kulp

Though there is the occasional misstep in factual information such as describing all tequila as coming from only Jalisco when in truth it can come from select regions of five Mexican states (including Jalisco, tequila can be produced or have its agave harvested in sections of Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit and Tamaulipas) and that it is not the leaves, but the piña which is cooked and processed, overall this book is a great tool for the novice drinker who wants to sit at the bar with confidence.

The confidence to know what they want to drink and also how it ended up in their glass.  Booze for Babes arms readers with the knowledge to appreciate (and hopefully embrace) cocktail lore.  Kulp acknowledges that legends abound about a number of classic recipes with credit being claimed by various bartenders, so one can't be entirely sure about the veracity of a drink's heritage. But go ahead and try telling that to the bartender at New York's landmarked Knickerbocker Hotel when it reopens on 42nd Street this summer; you might just get tossed out on your ear for doubting their claim that the Martini was created there.

Whether it was or it wasn't, knowing your cocktail history and spirits are life skills everyone should have and Booze for Babes does a decent job of imparting.  Gaz Regan has been quoted as saying, “Don’t be fooled, Booze for Babes ain’t just for women; it’s for anyone who wants to get a firm grasp of spirits, cocktails, and all things that are potently potable, but might have been intimidated by the subjects in the past. Kayleigh Kulp takes all the mystery out of drinks and drinking, and she does it in a wonderfully simple manner that’s very informative, and very easy to read.  Every 21-year-old should be required to read this book before they’re allowed to enter a bar.”