Bottoms Up

Bottoms Up: A History of Alcohol in Newfoundland and Labrador, the winner of the 2020 Gourmand International Best in the World Drink History Awards, is a thoroughly researched and engaging exploration of the role that alcohol has played in shaping the culture, economy, and social fabric of this unique Canadian province. Author Sheilah Roberts Lukins expertly navigates through the highs and lows of Newfoundland and Labrador’s drinking history, presenting a fascinating tapestry of anecdotes, facts, and insights. We first met the author in our review of For Maids Who Brew and Bake at She is also the author of many lovely children’s books while enjoying history, horses, dogs, good food, and great stories; she lives and writes in St. Philips, NL.

From the early days of European settlement to the influence of the British, Irish, and French, the author paints a vivid picture of how alcohol became an integral part of the Newfoundland and Labrador experience. This historical perspective provides valuable context, allowing readers to understand the complex relationship between alcohol and the people who call this province home.

“Take special care…”

“Take special care that thou delight not in wine . . . for it transformeth a man into a beast, decayeth health, poisoneth the breath, destroyeth natural heat, brings a man’s stomach to an artificial heat, deformeth the face, rotteth the teeth, and to conclude, maketh a man contemptible, soon old and despised of all wife and worthy men; hated in thy servants, in thy self and companions, for it is bewitching and infectious vice.”

The book also delves into the socio-cultural implications of alcohol consumption, shedding light on its impact on communities and individuals. Through detailed accounts of local customs, traditions, and even the prohibition era, Bottoms Up highlights the tensions and contradictions that surround alcohol. It explores the ways in which drinking has both united and divided communities, offering an insightful analysis of the nuanced dynamics at play.

In 1702, your average mariner guzzled seven gallons of beer a week….

The author’s narrative style is engaging and accessible, making the book a pleasure to read. Each chapter flows seamlessly, blending historical facts, personal stories, and academic research into a cohesive and entertaining narrative. The inclusion of archival photographs and illustrations further enhances the reading experience, transporting us back in time and adding visual context to the text.

Commodore Bowler, commander of the Newfoundland convoy and temporary Governor (1724-27) estimated that sixty-five of the 420 families in Newfoundland in 1726, kept public houses with “forty-six of them in St. John’s and vicinity, ten at Ferryland, four at Bay of Bulls, four at Trepassey, and one at Bonavista.”

With all this talk of alcohol, I asked Sheilah if she had a favourite beverage of choice and she said, “I like to fill the hollow in my avocado with Newman’s port wine… and I am very partial to a good red wine. Unlike many other Newfoundlanders though I do not drink rum and coke.” She also likes a Newfoundland classic called Flip. “Credit for the recipe has to go to the ladies in the 17th century kitchen at the Colony of Avalon here in NL. Flip is a really delicious warm drink especially with the nutmeg sprinkled on top of it.” Make the drink yourself from our Recipe section and watch this video for a personal guide to making the best Flip!

Do we have you intrigued? Learn more about the role of alcohol on the Rock by purchasing the book at or go to our Giveaway section and win your very own copy!

Contents and images used with permission by author Sheilah Roberts Lukins. and Breakwater Books