A Drinker's Journey
An enlightening and entertaining tour of different drinking cultures, by an author determined to get tipsy in the dry countries of the Middle East
‘I am taking a few months off to travel and wander, drinking my way across the Islamic world to see whether I can dry myself out, cure myself of a bout of alcoholic excess. It is a personal crisis, a private curiosity… I am curious to see how non-drinkers live. Perhaps they have something to teach me.’
Booze is mankind's premier drug of choice, the most popular mind-altering substance ever devised, and it plays a furtive, celebrated and subversive role in nearly every culture on earth. In The Wet and the Dry, Lawrence Osborne explores the culture of permission, particularly in the West, and the opposing culture of prohibition, notably in the Islamic East.
Osborne’s globe-trotting odyssey takes him from the luxurious bars of Milan to the vineyards of Lebanon, threatened by Hezbollah; from Swedish vodka to Pakistani strawberry gin; from the Nellie Dean pub in Soho to the dangerous brothels and drinking dens on the Malaysian border; from the boutique scotch produced on Islay to the liquor destroying Native American reservations; and from the only brewery in the dry country of Pakistan to the search for a bottle of New Year’s champagne in Oman. All the while, Osborne’s own Irish family history of terrifying alcoholism fails to deter him from seeking out a drink wherever he can.
“Mr Osborne is a superb travel writer, one who, like Evelyn Waugh, can size up a locale at almost a glance. This intoxicating book has political as well as sensual overtones”
Dwight Garner, New York Times
“Transcends mere travelogue: leached out, amused, slightly weary…The result is one of those ‘but’ books that insert an awkward little wedge into the Western media’s otherwise monolithic and clichéd view of Islam.”
“His travels and his erudite understanding of drink make a good read”
Douglas Osler, Scotsman
“Funny and provocative”
Scott Bradfield, Times Literary Supplement
“Anyone interested in the global culture of drink will be captivated by Lawrence Osborne's travel narrative... Mr Osborne is a perspicacious, knowing guide, and a maker of arrestingly beautiful sentences”
Rosie Schaap, New York Times