Over at the Weekly Standard, I’ve got a column concerning auto illiteracy. How many of us have studied arcane subjects that, while admirable in a life-of-the-mind sort of way, have little use when you’re, say, stuck on the side of the road with smoke billowing from beneath your car hood? Along with those AP courses, we should have been required to take shop class—carpentry and the basics of electrical work, plumbing, and auto repair. And who knows, you may even find it enriching.
Aside from promoting Vodka, I’ve started writing occasional columns at the Washington Free Beacon. These include reviews of John Jobling’s U2: The Definitive Biography, Frances Larson’s Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found, Russell James’s “gripping” Angels, and essays celebrating the return of foie gras to California and National Meat Month. Do check them out as well as the rest of the Beacon—frequently provocative, never boring.
Over at vanityfair.com, Alex Beggs reports on the latest commercial tie-in to the James Bond series: In the upcoming Spectre, Bond will be drinking specifically Belvedere vodka in his shaken—not stirred—martinis. I spoke with Ms. Beggs last week and was thrilled to see my quotations throughout her column as well as a generous hyperlink to my book, Vodka: How a Colorless, Odorless, Flavorless Spirit Conquered America.
You would think it an unlikely pairing, but on December 4 at 7 p.m., I will be discussing Vodka: How a Colorless, Odorless, Flavorless Spirit Conquered America (Lyons Press) at the Phillips Collection. Thanks to the kindness of Phillips director Dorothy Kosinski, I will be discussing “Vodka and the Dreams of Reality” as part of the museum’s Phillips After 5 program. Yes, that is how versatile vodka can be! If you’re in the area, please come on by, but be sure to register.
In the op-ed section of the October 20 Wall Street Journal, I’ve provided my brief take on the class action lawsuits alleging Tito’s Handmade Vodka is not handmade. On the one hand, during my reporting for the book, I ran across more than a few distillers who rolled their eyes at Tito’s use of the term “handmade” on the more than 1.2 million cases of vodka Tito’s sells each year. On the other hand, how would the plaintiffs define a handmade vodka? What aspects do they imagine involve hands—distillation takes place inside a still. In the current litigious environment, Tito’s may be better off reaching a settlement—two class action suits are the last thing Tito Beveridge needs. (Then again, Tito is a fighter. He’s gone round for round against the government—and survived.)