Episode 200 – “The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails” with David Wondrich and Noah Rothbaum

What’s shakin’, cocktail fans?

Welcome to Episode 200 of The Modern Bar Cart Podcast! 200 is a momentous number, and we have a couple momentous guests joining us to celebrate.

David Wondrich is the Senior Drinks Columnist at The Daily Beast and the author of such books as Imbibe! and Punch. Noah Rothbaum is the Half Full Editor for The Daily Beast, former Founding Editor in Chief at, and the author of books like The Business of Spirits, The Art of American Whiskey, and the forthcoming Whiskey Bible.

Additionally, these two gentlemen host the podcast, Life Behind Bars, and they are the combined editorial force behind The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails, which will be released this coming October by Oxford University Press.

In this wide-ranging conversation with Noah Rothbaum (@NRothbaum on Twitter) and David Wondrich (@DavidWondrich on Twitter), some of the topics we cover include:

  • How Dave transitioned from English professor, to Esquire columnist, to full-fledged cocktail historian, and how that journey brought him to collaborate with Noah at The Daily Beast and on their current Oxford Companion project.

  • The difference between writing about spirits and cocktails in the early 2000s vs. today, and how our relationship to “The Truth” (in quotes here) is different than it was during those early days of our great cocktail revival.

  • Why long-form booze writing has (paradoxically) spawned a lot of attention and accolades in today’s age of listicles and tweet threads.

  • And how conducting historical research is very similar to noodling for catfish.

  • Along the way, we discuss why Beachbum Berry can’t stand the Pina Colada, where Dave hid that lump of Ambergris he’s been missing for the past several years, the merits of a good rum punch, and much, much more.


Fried Peach Shortcake

Sweet Custard Wool Bread