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Research interests

The closely woven relationship between alcohol and the five major social institutions (family, economy, religion, government, and education) has taken me on a research journey that has spanned from the early origins of alcohol production in Asia to the lives of nineteenth- and twentieth-century bartenders to the French origins of Cuban rum.

However, during the past five years my focus has honed in on the economic and social impact of alcohol production and alcohol consumption on life in early modern and late modern England.

My main research interests include:

—the history of brewing and distilling as well as the roles these industries played in the transformation of the English economy during the Tudor, Stuart, and Georgian periods

—the history of London dry gin and eighteenth-century gin production outside of the capital, particularly in Bristol

—the history of domestic brewing and distilling in southwest England

Research outputs, to date, have been non-academic, intended for a general readership:

The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails, published in autumn 2021, covers all aspects of the alcohol development and consumption, from technical to cultural to historical, in a ground-breaking synthesis. Contributed a number of entries on brewing, historical bartender biographies, and origins of a variety of spirits.

Spirituous Journey: A History of Drink, Volume One and Volume Two which explored the history of drink and drinking from 7000 BC to the twentieth century were published in 2009 and 2010 both won awards for Best Drink Writing in the UK from the international Gourmand World Cook Book Awards. 

—Published in 2013, The Deans of Drink: The Amazing Lives & Turbulent Times of Harry Johnson & Harry Craddock As Seen in a New Light delved into the impact that extreme, world-changing events of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as well as the shifts in public attitudes that accompanied them sculpted the personal and professional lives of two of the bartending profession’s great pioneers. 

—Published in 2017 with funding provided by Pernod-Ricard, Spirit of the Cane: The Story of Cuban Rum narrated the French, Dutch, and British influences that led to the development of Cuban Rum as well as the histories of classic Cuban mixed drinks.

—Published in 2021, The Distiller of London deciphers the 'mysteries' of the 1639 official manual of the Worshipful Company of Distillers of London as well as introduces a revised history of early modern English distilling and the origins of London dry gin.

As the co-director of Exposition Universelles des Vins et Spiritueux, a private museum of wines and spirits situated in Bandol, France, from 2006 through 2009, I managed the archiving of over 8,000 bottles plus alcohol-related ephemera; the establisment of the museum's web site (ww.euvs.org) ; and founded a free, online library of drink and spirits books (ww.euvslibrary.com).

I served as the historical consultant, in 2009 and 2011, for the content and design of the Beefeater Visitor Centre in London. And in 2012, I was the archivist for the historical records of Plymouth Gin held at the Black Friars Distilery in Plymouth, Devon.

I am currently working on my PhD thesis which examines the early modern British brewing trade wth particular focus on its development in Bristol. The discussion reviews the nature the early modern brewing trade, including the the diverse nature of its brewers (private, alehouse, and common), its commercialisation and professionalisation amid national interventions as well as the inception and impact of transatlantic markets.

Education/Academic qualification

MSc in English Local History, University of Oxford

1 Sept 201720 Nov 2019

Award Date: 20 Nov 2019

MA in History, Open University

1 Feb 20161 Nov 2018

Award Date: 18 Nov 2018


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