Join award-winning drinks writer Henry Jeffreys for a journey through history and alcohol. His book Empire of Booze charts the rise of Britain from a small corner of Europe to global pre-eminence, each chapter unveils a drink which originated during a period in British imperial history.

Along the way, you will learn how we owe the champagne we drink today to 17th century methods for making sparkling cider; how madeira and India Pale Ale become legendary for their ability to withstand the long, hot journeys to Britain’s burgeoning overseas empire; and why whisky, a drink indigenous to Britain, became the familiar choice for weary Empire builders who longed for home.

Empire of Booze traces the impact of alcohol on British culture and society: literature, science, philosophy and even religion have reflections in the bottom of a glass. Filled to the brim with fascinating trivia, amusing stories and recommendations for how to enjoy these drinks today, we recommend that you bring a bottle or two to enjoy during this talk.

Henry Jeffreys worked in the wine trade and publishing before becoming a freelance writer and broadcaster. He was wine critic for The Lady, and his work has appeared in the Spectator, the Guardian, the Oldie and BBC Good Food magazine. He has been on BBC Radio 4, Radio 5 and Monocle Radio, and featured on TV programme Inside the Factory (2020) on BBC 2. He was a judge for the BBC Radio 4’s Food & Farming Awards and for the Fortnum & Mason food and drink awards 2018. His debut book Empire of Booze: British History through the Bottom of a Glass won a Fortnum & Mason award. Since then he has written The Home Bar (2018) and The Cocktail Dictionary (2020). He currently works as features editor for the Master of Malt drinks blog.