Monday, October 27, 2014

Book Review: The Drunken Botanist

Cocktails, science, and inspiration from Aviation gin? How can I resist?

This book by Amy Stewart looks at the wide variety of plants that play one role or another in the creation of alcoholic beverages, whether fermented, infused, or distilled.

The first section of the book looks at the plants that form the base of beverages, from agave in tequila and mezcal, to grapes in wine, to sugarcane in rum, cachaça, and arrack. There is a smaller chapter on less frequently used plants, such as bananas or parsnips. Each entry includes information about the plant itself, how it is processed and used to make various beverages, and at least one cocktail recipe that utilizes that particular plant.

The bulk of the book is taken up by sections recounting the herbs, fruits, seeds, barks, nuts, and so forth that are infused into liquors to give them flavor. Again, there is background on the plants, descriptions of their uses, and cocktail recipes.

The last major section covers plants that can be used as garnishes or accents, used to add flavor at the last stage of cocktail preparation.

I really enjoyed the writing style of this book, as the author is so clearly excited about her subject. There's a good balance of science, history, and practical information for the reader trying to understand the contents of their bottle.

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