Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart

"Every great drink starts with a plant," so says Amy Stewart in The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World's Greatest Drinks." Stewart should know; she's also the author of Flower Confidential and Wicked Plants.

The Drunken Botanist explores every botanical (160 species in all) related to alcohol. The first part explores the classics. These are the plants that are transferred into alcohol, from agave to wheat. Stewart combines the plants history, misconceptions, the differences between plant varieties, and how they are produced into alcohol. She further goes into the varieties of alcohol based on production. For example, there are 9 different apple spirits all differentiated by the apple fruit varietal content, aging, and other factors (apple brandy, applejack, apple liqueur, apple wine, Calvados, Calvados Domfrontais, Calvados Pays d'Auge, eau de vie, and pomeau).

The second part explores trees and their relationship to alcohol and mixers. Stewart writes about the interesting history of angostura bitters and why quinine glows under ultraviolet light. The third part explores fruit and alcohol, diving into such favorites as Theobroma cacoa (chocolate), marasca cherry (maraschino cherries), sloe berry (sloe gin), and the many varieties of citrus. If you have a green thumb, she gives tips for growing black currants, cherry trees, sloe shrubs, and citrus. She ends this section with nuts and seeds.

The last part is dedicated to finishing: herbs for muddling and infusing; flowers for garnish, color, and flavor; and trees, berries, fruits, and vegetables that are so important in mixed drinks.

Informative read with lots of recipes to experiment with, The Drunken Botanist is more than a coffee table or a culinary or bar reference book. It truly is a guidebook to all things botanical in both the worlds of new age mixology and classic bartending. Recommended read.

Book Information:

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher and any opinions are my own.

Renee Shelton
The Cookbook Papers


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