American Spirits: Mike Rowe Pours a Shot of Alcoholic Economic History


There are lots of ways to tell the story of America's history; unfortunately, most of them are boring. So when Mike Rowe, host of The Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs and the son of a history teacher, decided to try his hand at telling the tale, the first rule was that his version had to be compelling. His solution? He told the story through the lens of America's love/hate relationship with alcohol.

In his new program, How Booze Built America, Rowe mixes little-known history with economic analysis, puns, and a healthy serving of fermented spirits to explain how the American story is really the tale of one nation's love affair with alcohol. "I'm no James Burke," he admits, referring to the classic BBC history program Connections. "But I wanted to show how history can be cool."

To give a glimpse of the story, here are a few of Rowe's favorite high points from our fermented past:


Bruce Watson is a senior features writer for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.