Tipsy in Madras: A Complete Guide to 80s Preppy Drinking
By Matt Walker and Marissa Walsh
Perigree Books, 200 pages, 2004

The first thing you learn when opening the covers of Tipsy in Madras: A Complete Guide to Preppy Drinking, is that according to the authors actually preppies no longer exist. Whether you agree with their statement or not, it sets the tone for this fun, tongue-in-cheek book that walks readers though ’80s preppy-style drinking with nostalgia and flair. And along the way, you take in a surprising amount of information about preppy culture, beyond what we already know from Lisa Birnbach’s ’80s classic, The Preppy Handbook.

For those of us who grew up in the 1980s, the many music and film references that provide colour to many of the book’s sections are easy to understand, but may frustrate younger readers who won’t necessarily get all the pop culture name-dropping. To me, the light and conversational tone mixed with cultural history drinking-related tidbits (I had no idea that the popular ’80s diet soft drink TaB, was named such by the Coca-Cola Company in the 1960s because “Americans had begun to keep ‘tabs’ on their weight,” for instance) makes zipping through the pages of Tipsy in Madras a breeze.

There are plenty of recipes here, too, from traditional favourites like the Bloody Mary, dry Martini and Gimlet to the more exotic and tropical Scorpion Bowl and Singapore Sling. Beer, wine — and even the ever-awful wine coolers — are also addressed, but it’s the mixed drinks that drive the content, and are sure to inspire a trip to the liquor store and a viewing of the movie, Cocktail.

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