Book Details

Author : Amy Stewart
Category : Cookbooks, Food & Wine,Beverages & Wine,Wine & Spirits,Spirits
Formats : Paperback,Audio CD,Kindle Edition,Hardcover,Audible Audiobook,Preloaded Digital Audio Player
Languages : English
Pages : 400
Price : Check Price in Amazon
PublishDate : 2013-03-19
ReleaseDate : 2013-03-19

Books Floor Rating

amy stewart
drunken botanist
alcoholic beverages
fun read
well written

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Book Summary & Description

  • The Essential, New York Times–Bestselling Guide To Botany And Booze“A Book That Makes Familiar Drinks Seem New Again .

  • Through This Horticultural Lens, A Mixed Drink Becomes A Cornucopia Of Plants.”—Nprs Morning Edition“Amy Stewart Has A Way Of Making Gardening Seem Exciting, Even A Little Dangerous.” —The New York Timessake Began With A Grain Of Rice.

  • Scotch Emerged From Barley, Tequila From Agave, Rum From Sugarcane, Bourbon From Corn.

  • Thirsty Yet?

  • In The Drunken Botanist, Amy Stewart Explores The Dizzying Array Of Herbs, Flowers, Trees, Fruits, And Fungi That Humans Have, Through Ingenuity, Inspiration, And Sheer Desperation, Contrived To Transform Into Alcohol Over The Centuries.

  • Of All The Extraordinary And Obscure Plants That Have Been Fermented And Distilled, A Few Are Dangerous, Some Are Downright Bizarre, And One Is As Ancient As Dinosaurs—But Each Represents A Unique Cultural Contribution To Our Global Drinking Traditions And Our History.

  • This Fascinating Concoction Of Biology, Chemistry, History, Etymology, And Mixology—With More Than Fifty Drink Recipes And Growing Tips For Gardeners—Will Make You The Most Popular Guest At Any Cocktail Party.

Book Reviews

I dabble a bit in making bitters, limoncello, and various types of meads and honey wines, and this book provided a fascinating tour of the history of alcohol, while introducing other intriguing social facts, like how slave trade grew to harvest sugar for rum; theres also some wonderful recipes, a fantastic discussion on what defines a top shelf alcohol, and even a history of a number of plants discussed. If you geek out on science or history, or just like booze, youll probably find something to love in this book.

If you geek out on science or history, or just like booze, youll probably find something to love in this book. Joking aside, it also provides a foundation to think more about why we like certain tastes, why drinks taste as they do, and the many ways that plant diversity enriches our lives. Im NOT a heavy drinker by any stretch of the imagination considering I consume less than a dozen adult beverages a year, in fact I use far more liquor in my alcohol based cleaners and home DIY products but this is such a fun book!If you have any interest in the history and origins of vodka, gin, rum, whiskey and more, this is the absolute best book Ive encountered. Gin is made from juniper berries which is long known for their pain relieving properties, so its safe to presume that once upon a time our ancestors knew that a gin and tonic was great as a pain-relieving muscle-relaxer.

This is one of the most charming, informative and useful books Ive read in long time. I love the authors writing style – concise, informative and fun – as much as I love the design, which makes me feel as though Ive picked up a great find in an antique bookshop. What could be more fun for a gardener than to plant some things in the garden from which one can create delicious things to imbibe after a long day of weeding?My interest initially went to creating elderflower concoctions, but then I kept turning the pages and now have more ideas for plants in my garden than I know what to do with. I like what I have found between the covers so far, as I have read about 40% or 50% of the book. An unusual book: the author writes with the authority of a life long academic but in an informal, somewhat irreverent style that belies the apparently totally authentic content.

fits right in with the series that began with Wicked Bugs, which i think was the first book, well written, although all books fall short because proofreaders arent used anymore, but, the author or editor did a very good job and there were few grammar mistakes. the anecdotes and the information is presented in a manner that will make amaze and delight any reader who wants to touch on the subject of plants used by humans, and some animals, to intoxicate. i do not imbibe much, but, some of the recipes included in the book are intriguing and enticing. Anyone who enjoys plants and booze of any kind–beer, spirits, cocktails, wine, etc. –must read this book!Its fascinating, well-written and covers more botanicals (grains, fruits, nuts, plants, flowers, spices, herbs, etc. )

The elixir of lifethe aqua vitaethat the plant world has given us. Gin is nothing but an alcohol extraction of all these crazy plants from around the worldtree bark and leaves and seeds and flowers and fruit. One hundred and sixty plant species are covered in the book. Solanum tuberosuma nightshade, which is a weird family of plants if there ever was one. Among the Turks, where wine of the grape is forbid by their law, the Jews and Christians keep, in their taverns, a liquor made of fermented raisins. Given the role they play in creating the worlds great drinks, its a wonder there are any sober botanists at all. “. . . A great gin or a fine French liqueur is flavored with innumerable herbs, seeds, and fruit, some of them added during distillation and some just before bottling.

I structured the book around this journey from mash tub and still, to bottle, to glass. The plants are alphabetically indexed and include all the well-known beverages first, and then proceed to the uncommon ones. Let’s skip the skimpy info in the book here and rather share my own memories with you:Marulas(Sclerocarya birrea spp caffra), a delicious African fruit, is not only a highly sought after ingredient for various liqueurs, beers, moonshine (witblits in Afrikaans, also called Tt-Tt, one of the most potent moonshines on the planet). The fruit is safe for human consumption when it’s dropped from the tree and picked up immediately (especially after the elephants shook the trees). The tree forms part of the ANACARDIACEAE (cashew nut) family of plants. Amy Stewart is sort of the Mary Roach of the plant world, but not quite as funny.

She even gives some gardening advice so you can grow the plants you’ll use in your boozy concoctions. We were in a fantastical greenhouse, the world’s most exotic botanical garden, the sort of strange and overgrown conservatory we only encounter in our dreams. Around the world, it seems, there is not a tree or shrub or delicate wildflower that has not been harvested, brewed, and bottled. Give the role they play in creating the world’s great drinks, it’s a wonder there are any sober botanists at all. It also frequently takes a page here and there to explain how to grow certain plants yourself. However, Stewart is fascinating; she tackles every variety of plant you can think of and then goes through them species by species, telling us how they became involved in becoming an alcoholic drink.

I especially loved the stories about Nixon going to China and drinking mao-tai – so hilarious!The ceremonial drink that night was mao-tai, a sorghum spirit with an alcohol content over 50%. Alexander Haig had sampled the drink on an advance visit and cabled a warning that “Under no repeat no circumstances should the President actually drink from his glass. . . ” Nixon ignored the advice and matched his host drink for drink, shuddering but saying nothing each time he took a sip. Prime Minister Chou En-lai held a match to his glass to show the president that the spirit could be lit on fire, a fact that Nixon filed away for future use. In 1974, National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger told another Chinese official that the president tried to repeat the trick for his daughter when he returned home.

LOL This is just a taste – Stewart has plenty of entertaining stories about alcohol and its successes and pitfalls throughout history. The book is colorful, fully illustrated, and has a fun, whimsical feel to it. Tl;dr – Tons of botany, and a great exploration of liquors, infusions, and cocktails that you will be longing to try after reading this book. Although the book had a lot of “extra” material that didn’t apply to my life or interest me, it was a strong and worthwhile read. This Thanksgiving I slipped and partook in a little drinking and. . . . oops!He doesn’t even know I bought this book, though he did know I was going to because when it came to our attention in the museum’s gift shop and we both put it on our to-read lists right then and there, I promised I’d get us a copy.

Todd reads sporadically so it will take him years to get through that which is perfect because my lunch break reading only happens in summer and fall and I get distracted a lot and it often takes me more than a year to get a book read so we’ll both have ample time to finish our fascinating tomes. He spends his time doing dumb nerd stuff, not science nerd stuff and science nerd stuff is the best stuff to do. My victim and I broke up and we’re just cordial acquaintances now (that’s a pun because this book is about liquor)It’s arranged in quick essay format starting with major botanical-to-alchemical plants, such as wheat, barley, rice, etc. and moving on to lesser known plants that have been alcoholized, like angelica, chamomile, coffee, and pepper. Every plant gets between 1 and 6 pages of description, history, fermentation process, and anecdotes.

While the format is something like an encyclopedia, I read it cover-to-cover, and was sad when i reached the end; the entries were that informative and well-written that it was more engaging than some novels I’ve read recently. The drink recipes included worked really well based on those I tried. Based on this, though, I’ve ordered the “:real” version, because I think it’ll be worth it; I’ve also ordered a couple of the author’s other books. If you are interested in the history of booze, or in cocktails, or spirits in general- I HIGHLY recommend this book. A good book to read a bit at a time, and a painless way to learn some botany. There are drink recipes and liquor lore, mostly lost on me — though I did learn some interesting stuff about brewing beer. This would make a fine gift book — the hardcover is attractive, sturdy, and well-designed.


She delves into the botany of the plants and how different species can contribute different flavors (or must be eschewed entirely due to toxicity or simply unpleasant tastes), the history of the plants and their mutations over the centuries, archeological findings supporting speculations about the origins of some favorite beverages, recipes for DIY, and growing tips for would-be gardeners. This book goes into meticulous detail in listing all the plants, trees, herbs, nuts, flowers, spices and pretty much anything else that has ever been fermented and distilled to make alcohol. Stewart tells how agaves are harvested, what that flavor in Amaretto di Saronno is (nope, not almonds), what kind of bugs find their way into what liquour and gives comparison charts for the multiples of say, violet liqueurs.

I’d read about this book here on LT, so when she appeared nearby a couple of weeks ago I went to grab this for the signing and listen to her talk about all the research (parties) that went into the two years she spent on this book. Despite my love-hate relationship with potted plants (they keep dying), the title of this book immediately caught my attention. While writing this review, I was sipping a good red port and musing over all the great anecdotes in this book. The book is best described as an encyclopaedia of the botanical origins of drinks, and how people came to make alcohol out of every plant they could find, such as the banana. So grab a nice drink of your choosing and let me tell you a bit more about this book. This book is a combination of a serious botanical account, with growing tips that all seemed very sensible to me as a non-gardener.

It is a tricky balance though, because sometimes authors try to be too funny, losing credibility during the more serious parts of a book. It might not be the kind of book you will read from cover to cover in one go: that will probably make you forget all the names of the plants and drinks, even when youre reading it completely sober. It is the kind of book you pick up once in a while and read a few chapters from to have something new to tell next time youre enjoying a drink in a bar or pub. Read the full story, with lots of funny anecdotes and a great picture of alcohol and the socks my mother knitted me, at Bookworms UnitedThe Drunken Botanist: The Plants that Create the World’s Great Drinks by Amy Stewart The Drunken Botanist” is a wonderful reference on plants associated with the world’s favorite drinks.

It’s an ambitious and well laid out book that like a great drink is better served in small measured amounts than as a whole. This instructive 400-page book is broken out into the following three parts: 1. We explore the twin alchemical processes of fermentation and distillation, from which wine, beer, and spirits issue forth, 2. At last we venture into the garden, where we encounter a seasonal array of botanical mixers and garnishes to be introduced to the cocktail in its final stage. This is a book of essays that is best read in short time increments thus the well-laid format is conducive to jumping around to topics of interest. The book is structured around the journey from the desired plant to still, to bottle, to glass. Serving size: A cocktail is not supposed to be an enormous drink. The bottom line: “the botanical world produces alcohol in abundance”.

Stewart does a wonderful job of clarifying misunderstandings and debunking popular myths throughout the book. “Some fun science facts, “The DNA of apples is more complex than ours; a recent sequencing of the Golden Delicious genome uncovered fifty-seven thousand genes, more than twice as many as the twenty thousand to twenty-five thousand that humans possess. “The book provides some agricultural advice called “Grow Your Own”. Interesting facts throughout the book, “The oldest domesticated living organism is not a horse or a chicken, nor is it corn or wheat. It is a wild single-celled, asexual creature capable of preserving food, making bread rise, and fermenting drinks. ”

Best Book Quote

Photographs that depict suffering shouldn’t be beautiful, as captions shouldn’t moralize.

Susan Sontag

That explains why, until distillation was invented, no human had ever enjoyed a stronger drink than beer or wine. “One of the best attributes about this book is that it covers all the main spirits and you can easily jump to your favorite sections. Some great historical stories, “At the state dinner, Prime Minister Chou En-lai held a match to his glass to show the president that the spirit could be lit on fire, a fact Nixon filed away for future use. In 1974, National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger told another Chinese official that the president tried to repeat the trick for his daughter when he returned home. So he took out a bottle and poured it into a saucer and lit it, Kissinger said, but the glass bowl broke and the mao-tai ran over the table and the table began to burn!

The book is well researched and well arranged for easy access of topics. The one thing clear I got out of this book is never underestimate human’s ingenuity in producing great drinks from practically every plant on this one globe we live on. Further suggestions: Wicked Plants” and “Wicked Bugs” by the same author, “Boozehound” by Jason Wilson, “The Complete Book of Spirits” and “The Complete Book of Mixed Drinks” by Anthony Dias Blue, “Craft Cocktails at Home” by Kevin Lu, “100 Years of Cocktails” by H. L. Holbrough, and “The Ultimate Bar Book” by Mittie Hellmich. Nature seems to love making alcohol; take any plant with sugars present in it (any fruit and a lot of grains) and let it sit out where wild yeasts can land in it, give it a little time, and alcohol will appear. Humans have been taking advantage of this for thousands of years and show no signs of losing their enchantment with alcohol.

For each plant she tells us how and where it was/is used, what it adds to the brew, which brands of the brew are best, and for many, how to grow the plant. This is where the book ties into gardening: while the average gardener wont be growing grain and setting up a still, most gardeners are able to grow some mint for mojitos, jalapenos for some special margaritas, cherry tomatoes for a Blushing Mary, or a fruit tree. Face it; nearly everything in an alcoholic drink comes from plants except for bacon vodka and Irish cream. The author includes over 50 drink recipes for the home mixologist. The book accomplished two things for me: I have a lot better understanding of alcohols and the history of drinks, and I want to try a lot of things I cant afford but really want to taste, like violet liqueur and fancy vodka.

Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World’s Greatest Drinks by Amy Stewart is a charming, intelligent compendium of the plants (herbs, flowers, trees, fruit, etc. )Its combination of history, botany and chemistry is blended with keen storytelling and will appeal to more than your average garden nerd. It is the kind of book you leave on your nightstand and read a new entry from each evening before bed. It’s the book that makes you feel better equipped to handle witty, cocktail party banter. At one point in the evening, she managed to succinctly hit the nail on the head of why I’m not just inherently uncool because I often sit at a bar and struggle with what drink to order. The evening carried on in much that manner, the ebb and flow of conversation moving from cocktails and drinking stories to the ability to order liquor and wine over the internet to Loki’s delight in creating chaos.

The book itself should come with the warning that you may suddenly find yourself with Evernote open, gleefully adding “Clear Creek Distillery”, “cassis” and “thick, rich, French liqueur, made from the fruit of the black currant bush, turns an ordinary glass of dry white wine, sparkling wine, or hard cider into something wonderful” to a list of things to hunt for. As a graduate student who studies plant biology and also enjoys a good drink, Amy Stewarts The Drunken Botanist is my kind of book. Stewart aims to educate readers about the botany and history of the many plants that find their way into human libations.

I found the first section to be the most satisfying Stewart covers each plant and the corresponding beverage in detail, providing information on the different cultivars in use, the specifics of the particular fermentation/distillation process, and the distinguishing characteristics of the resulting beverages. In the subsequent section, the many dozens of plants used for flavoring are discussed, including quite a few that will be familiar to most drinkers (i. e. anise, hops, and juniper), some that are familiar, but not in the context of alcohol (i. e. clove, lemon balm, and chamomile), and some that are just plain unusual (i. e. bison grass, meadowsweet, and gentian). I found the book to be well-written and incredibly well-researched, though I think that it does become a bit encyclopedic starting with the second section. There are lots and lots of cocktail recipes throughout the book.

And when I say she loves plants, she’s an arborist so, yeah, she’ll talk your ear off about every tree in view. As we begin covering the botanicals distilled around the world to provide alcoholic refreshment (from A is for Agave to W is for Wheat), there are interesting side digressions. Of course, it would also be a great general reference book for those who don’t want to read it cover to cover. This was a wonderfully entertaining book, not only for those interested in cocktails but in showing how botany, seen through this focus, has influenced our history and behavior. The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World’s Great Drinks – Amy Stewart You dont have to be a heavy drinker to enjoy this, although its probably best if you have an interest of some kind in booze.

Amy Stewart did a lot of great research, the presentation is consistent and easy to consume — love the section on Maraschino cherries and Marrasca liqueur (I now have a new favorite mixed drink: The Aviation!). Within its gorgeous green cover are sections on fermentation/distillation of various plants (from agave to wheat); information on the items that might infuse a spirit; and last, plants that can be used as fresh mixers and garnishes.

Stewart includes recipes for about a dozen syrups and 4 dozen cocktails – all of them classics, or excellent riffs thereon. She also has sections with advice on how to grow your own plants, if you like, as well as recommended reading for gardeners and mixologists alike. Id love to say that this book would clear up, say, the various apple beverages or grape-based spirits once and for all, but that will probably take at least one reread. It’s fascinating historical facts, brewing information, advice (and warnings) on growing the stuff yourself, and recommendations on brands and breweries. The book’s listing on Amazon contains a short book trailer that sums up the humor quite well. A few times it made me giggle, but more than that it’s the sort of book that balances information and amusement in a way that begs to be read out loud to others.

Although my review is listed for the print edition of THE DRUNKEN BOTANIST, I switched to the kindle edition after giving my hardcover copy away as a gift. The e-book version suffers from the overall design because of its inherent linearity whereas physical books make flipping back and forth much easily. Stewart delves deep into the science behind the plants, process, and presentation of common alcoholic ingredients. From historical facts to cocktail recipes, the intrepid boozehound is bond to find something new to learn about their favorite drinks. Only buy if you plan on mixing drinks in the near future or want to buy the best brands of your particular poison. Im an avid gardener, love drink experimentation (and drinking generally) and am a huge cooking enthusiast, particularly when it comes to making obscure things from scratch.

With a particular eye to the botanical history and discovery of each ingredient, along with the subsequent alcoholic uses, readers are even provided with recipes for drinks and ingredients. Wheat beers are often served with a lemon wedge to highlight their natural citrus flavors, but some beer aficionados consider this a sacrilege. LOL I am one of those people who is horrified by beer served with lemon or lime or orange wedges, I don’t even like to see beer served in a frosty mug, because ice-cold temperature kills the flavor. Ms Stewart is always a fun and enthusiastic author, and this is a fun book with a lot of fascinating information. Much like a fine whiskey (because no I could not resist that obvious metaphor), this is a book best savored slowly, not gulped. I tried to read just one section each day, but the first day I was so delighted, I read from agave straight through to potato.

* Agave was originally grown as a food source, not for making a fermented beverage. * Corn was (most likely) grown not as a grain but as a source of sugar from the cornstalk, and was supplanted by sugar cane when that plant was brought to the Americas. * During Prohibition, California vineyards sold bricks of dried compressed grapes, along with yeast, and a warning not to soak the mixturein warm water – “fermentation will occur! “* Vodka was originally made from rye and other plants; potato-based vodka was seen as cheap and inferior. * A drink made from fermented sweet potatoes (mobbie) was very popular in the Caribbean, only replaced by sugar cane rum after a beetle infestation wiped out sweet potatoes in Barbados in the late 1700s. Agave | Apple | Barley | Corn | Grapes | Potato | Rice | Rye | Sorghum | Sugarcane | Wheat

Allspice | Aloe | Angelica | Artichoke | Bay Laurel | Betel Leaf | Bison Grass | Calamus (Sweet Flag) | Caraway | Cardamom | Clove | Coca | Coriander | Cubeb | Damiana | Dittany of Crete | Elecampane | European Centaury | Fenugreek | Galangal | Gentian | Germander | Ginger | Grains of Paradise | Juniper | Lemon Balm | Lemon Verbena | Licorice-Flavored Herbs | Maidenhair Fern | Meadowsweet | Nutmeg and Mace | Orris | Pink Peppercorn | Sarsaparilla | Sassafras | Sundew | Sweet Woodruff | Tobacco | Tonka Bean | Vanilla | WormwoodI’m not sure if that’s because I’d never heard of a lot of the flavorings mentioned in Part 2, or if it’s because there are just SO many different plants listed, with little in depth information.

Any number of popular books on tequila and mezcal claim that when the Spanish arrived in Mexico, they needed a stronger drink to fortify themselves against the long and bloody struggle to come and introduced distillation as a way to turn pulque into a higher-proof spirit. The complex sugar molecules in agave nectar dont break down readily during fermentation, and heat from distillation causes unpleasant chemical reactions that create nasty flavors like sulfur and burning rubber. Extracting agave sugars for distillation requires a different techniqueone that had already been perfected before the Spanish arrived. Archeological evidenceincluding the aforementioned coprolite analysis carried out by Eric Callen and othersproves that people living in Mexico prior to the Spanish invasion enjoyed a long tradition of roasting the heart of the agave for food.

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