Monday, March 4, 2013

Book Review: The Drunken Botanist

The Drunken Botanist: The Plants that Create the World's Great Drinks by Amy Stewart
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2013 (ARC); 366 pages

Note: I received this book as part of LibraryThing's Early Reviews program.

The Drunken Botanist is essentially an encyclopedia of the most common and interesting plants used to make alcoholic beverages, covering history, botany, zymology, and the culinary arts. However, the entries are far more interesting than your typical reference guide, making this a highly-readable book. Stewart opens with a section on the plants used to make alcohol, from grains like barley and rye to fruits such as grapes and apples and even vegetables such as potatoes. The second section covers the herbs, spices, and other plant material used to flavor alcohol, including commonly-recognized fruits such as oranges and lemons as well as lesser known plants such as mauby and quandong. Finally, the third section covers common garnishes. The book is also full of recipes featuring the beverages and plants mentioned in each section. The historical stories that Stewart tells are fascinating, as is the information on the production of alcoholic beverages.

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