The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World's Great Drinks

Algonquin. Mar. 2013. 400p. bibliog. illus. index. ISBN 9781616200466. $19.95. COOKING
OrangeReviewStarStewart's (Wicked Bugs; Wicked Plants) new book explores the botanical beginnings of our favorite drinks. Like her previous books, it is so rich in details, little-known facts, and actual science, that readers won't even notice they are reading an encyclopedia. Each plant description includes history, propagation, and usage details. Stewart includes sidebars with recipes, field guides, planting instructions, a description of the role of bugs in getting from seed to plant to table, and in-depth historical details. She includes archaeological finds such as the presence of barley beer on clay pot fragments dated to 3400 B.C.E. and the legal details that changed the course of birch beer, which started as a mildly alcoholic beer, morphed into a soft drink during Prohibition, and recently began to be produced as a liqueur.
VERDICT With more than 50 drink recipes, and growing tips, this highly entertaining book will please both cocktail enthusiasts and backyard gardeners. The inclusion of rich history throughout will delight armchair historians and the naturally curious. Highly recommended.

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