There are dozens of urban legends about alcohol consumption. Will homemade booze make you go blind? Does liquor-then-beer really put you in the clear? Can you build up your alcohol tolerance, or are you born a suffering lightweight?
Author and cocktail historian Brian D. Hoefling has teamed up with Argentinean-born illustrator Leandro Castelao to create a book that answers these important questions while looking like a mod mid-century guidebook. Instead of regurgitating the same wives’ tales and legends we’ve all heard before, Distilled Knowledge: The Science Behind Drinking’s Greatest Myths, Legends, and Unanswered Questions finds the science to back up the truths and discredit the lies. The book covers major topics like fermentation, distillation, and preparation, but most barflies will find themselves lingering in the last chapter, devoted to the effects of alcohol on the human body.
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In that final chapter, Hoefling covers alcohol’s relationship with sleep, sex, memory and more. Perhaps most eloquently, the author explains why drinking alcohol makes you feel good. He uses plain, conversational language while invoking the necessary scientific terms when necessary. For example, the statement “alcohol uses a natural, indirect pathway to trigger the same sensors that heavy duty painkillers do” is followed up by references to cannabinoid receptors and an explanation of disinhibition.
Castelao’s illustrations and infographics help convey the most important themes while still being lighthearted and fun. A favorite is the X/Y graph plotting blood alcohol content with what could happen to your body on a busy night out, which is smartly accented with unbalanced, vomiting and ultimately unconscious stick men. The quirky art style evokes a simple, playful throwback to vintage icon design and branding.
Distilled Knowledge: The Science Behind Drinking’s Greatest Myths, Legends, and Unanswered Questions is available now through Abbeville Press.