A very nice review by Kevin R Kosar in The American Spectator!
Walk into the average American grocery store and you will see the spices in one aisle, herbal cures in another, and beer and wine somewhere else. Over-the-counter medicines have their own section, and drugs are locked up behind the pharmacist’s counter. And distilled spirits, well, you likely will not find them on the shelves — they typically are exiled to dedicated liquor stores. Separate products for separate purposes, all packaged, marketed, and sold separately.
This state of affairs developed only in the past century, as one learns from Camper English’s diverting Doctors and Distillers: The Remarkable Medicinal History of Beer, Wine, Spirits, and Cocktails (Penguin, 2022). Hitherto, these foodstuffs were united in the form of boozy health tonics and curatives, which the sick or simply thirsty acquired from apothecaries, monks, barbers, or other medicine men.
Camper English’s Doctors and Distillers is a delightful way to journey back in time and see the many and often crazy ways that drink and medicine merged. Having finished reading this expansive book, nonetheless my yearning for those remarkable days of yesteryear remain. So off to a bar I shall go, where I can relive them by paying a mixologist to serve me an elixir of Fernet-Branca and cola, or perhaps a slug of herb-loaded Jägermeister.