The cover of Doctors and Distillers by Camper English.

An interview with Camper English

Southern Glazer’s Bridget Albert talks to Camper English about his latest book Doctors and Distillers.


What came first medicine or spirits?


Nearly every ingredient in cocktails, plus beer and wine, was used as medicine at one point in time. Doctors and Distillers traces the intertwined history of booze and medicine - and all the mixers too. 


How did the alchemist’s use wine?


When alchemists first concentrated alcohol in wine via distillation, they were trying to make medicines, not beverages.


Is there a classic cocktail that was once use for medicinal purpose?


The original Cocktail (aka the Old Fashioned) was a hangover drink with stomach-soothing bitters, served at room temperature in the morning. Yuck!


Are common ingredients used in cocktails today that were used for early cures?


Citrus for scurvy, tonic water for malaria, root beer for syphilis, Fernet-Branca for cholera, Chartreuse as a poison antidote, and more! 


What is your favorite toast?


"To your health!"






To learn more about Camper’s book, visit: Doctors and Distillers: The Remarkable Medicinal History of Beer, Wine, Spirits, and Cocktails is now on sale! Read the reviews in the New York TimesWashington PostScience, and Scientific American! Excerpts in the Wall Street Journal and on LitHub



About Camper English


Camper English is a cocktails and spirits writer and speaker who has covered the craft cocktail renaissance for over 15 years, contributing to more than 50 publications around the world including Popular ScienceSaveurDetailsWhisky Advocate, and Drinks International. With a focus on the nerdy side of mixology, he has studied everything from the history of carbonation to the science of clear ice cubes. He has been awarded International Cognac Writer of the Year by the Bureau National Interprofessional du Cognac and Best Cocktail Writer at the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards. His website is



Follow Camper on social here: Twitter: @alcademics Instagram: @alcademics Twitter: @cocktailsafe


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