Friday, September 03, 2010

“Three Sheets” by Zane Lamprey (Book Review)

Three Sheets: Drinking Made Easy! 6 Continents, 15 Countries, 190 Drinks, and 1 Mean Hangover by Zane Lamprey

Promoting his cult hit TV Show “Three Sheets” (which appeared on such TV Channels as Mojo, The Fine Living Network and The Travel Channel), host Zane Lamprey wrote this book in part to try to find a new home for the show (and someone who’d finance a 5th season) as well as to publicize the new show he’s hosting on Mark Cuban’s HDNet channel, called “Drinking Made Easy”. 

For those of you who never saw the “Three Sheets” show, it was a drinking show that might best be described as an international pub crawl – Lamprey traveled the globe in search of new cocktails and to educate viewers on drinking customs from cultures around the world.  Although “Drinking Made Easy” won’t debut until this fall, my understanding of the difference between the two shows is that “Drinking Made Easy” will be shot only in cities around the United States; as a matter of fact, during Lamprey’s recent nationwide comedy tour to promote both the book and the new TV show, many new episodes for the show were shot in each of the cities included in the tour. 

“Three Sheets” the book is basically a compilation of many (but certainly not all) of the best episodes from the four seasons the TV Show “Three Sheets” was on the air.  The book is divided into four major sections based on the continents Lamprey visited during the course of the show – namely, Europe, The Americas (North & South), Asia & Oceania and Africa.  Each chapter within the sections focuses on a different country that appeared in an episode of the “Three Sheets” show during seasons 1 through 4. 

The section on Europe includes chapters on Ireland, France (specifically, the Champagne region), Scotland, Belgium and Poland.  The Americas section has chapters on Mexico (the state of Jalisco, the episode for which focused on Tequila and Mescal), Argentina, Jamaica, St. Martin/St. Maarten and Las Vegas.  In Asia & Oceania, he visited Taipei, New Zealand and Japan.  Finally, Africa’s section includes only two chapters – Tanzania and South Africa. 

I’m not exactly sure why Lamprey didn’t include a chapter for each one of the episodes of “Three Sheets” – maybe because he didn’t have enough material to justify an entire chapter for the other countries, maybe because he’s planning a second edition in the event that “Three Sheets” gets picked up for a 5th season.  We’ll see, I suppose.  In any event, while many of my favorite episodes are included in this book, there are a few that are omitted – specifically, the episodes where he visited Belgium (where he was upstaged by some guy who goes by the moniker of The Beer Hunter), Kentucky (trying different kinds of bourbons) and Chile (which, most gratefully, introduced me to The Pisco Sour). 

On the plus side, each chapter of the book contains some material that – for one reason or another – didn’t make it into the TV episode when it aired.  Just like each episode ends with a hangover remedy, so does each chapter – the difference in the book being that he rates each remedy on a scale of one to three sheets (one sheet being the worst and three being the best – you’ll have to read the book to find out which remedy Lamprey rated at an astounding four sheets!).  Where I would be critical about the book is with respect to its placement of sidebars; while the sidebars themselves were generally informative and interesting, they were often misplaced.  Sidebars, in order to work and be relevant, should be placed within the heading specific to that particular topic; far too often in this book, they were not – instead, the sidebars were frequently placed either before or after the appropriate heading, which was a little confusing while reading the book. 

All in all, the book “Three Sheets” – not unlike the TV Show “Three Sheets” – is simultaneously informative and amusing as you learn about various wines, spirits and beers.  If you were a fan of the TV show and don’t have access to the old TV episodes, this book will recall many fond memories from the show.  On the other hand, if you never saw the TV show, the book will give you a good idea what it was like, but by no means can ever be a complete replacement because much of the humor was so visual.  In case you’re curious about the TV show, you can buy DVD’s from previous seasons on Mojo’s Web site or view them online at Hulu.