The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart

The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart

 

Every great drink starts with a plant. Sake began with a grain of rice. Scotch emerged from barley. Gin was born from a conifer shrub when a Dutch physician added oil of juniper to a clear spirit, believing that juniper berries would cure kidney disorders. "The Drunken Botanist" uncovers the enlightening botanical history and the fascinating science and chemistry of over 150 plants, flowers, trees, and fruits (and even one fungus). Some of the most extraordinary and obscure plants have been fermented and distilled, and they each represent a unique cultural contribution to our global drinking traditions and our history. Molasses was an essential ingredient in American independence: when the British forced the colonies to buy British (not French) molasses for their New World rum-making, the settlers outrage kindled the American Revolution. Rye, which turns up in countless spirits, is vulnerable to ergot, which contains a precursor to LSD, and some historians have speculated that the Salem witch trials occurred because girls poisoned by ergot had seizures that made townspeople think they d been bewitched. Then there's the tale of the thirty-year court battle that took place over the trademarking of Angostura bitters, which may or may not actually contain bark from the Angostura tree. With a delightful two-color vintage-style interior, over fifty drink recipes, growing tips for gardeners, and advice that carries Stewart's trademark wit, this is the perfect gift for gardeners and cocktail aficionados alike.
Source: Goodreads

The Drunken Botanist:

The Plants that Create the World's Greatest Drinks

Amy Stewart

 
Pages: 362
Published March 19th 2013 by Algonquin Books
 
 
Every great drink starts with a plant. Sake began with a grain of rice. Scotch emerged from barley. Gin was born from a conifer shrub when a Dutch physician added oil of juniper to a clear spirit, believing that juniper berries would cure kidney disorders. "The Drunken Botanist" uncovers the enlightening botanical history and the fascinating science and chemistry of over 150 plants, flowers, trees, and fruits (and even one fungus).
Some of the most extraordinary and obscure plants have been fermented and distilled, and they each represent a unique cultural contribution to our global drinking traditions and our history. Molasses was an essential ingredient in American independence: when the British forced the colonies to buy British (not French) molasses for their New World rum-making, the settlers outrage kindled the American Revolution. Rye, which turns up in countless spirits, is vulnerable to ergot, which contains a precursor to LSD, and some historians have speculated that the Salem witch trials occurred because girls poisoned by ergot had seizures that made townspeople think they d been bewitched. Then there's the tale of the thirty-year court battle that took place over the trademarking of Angostura bitters, which may or may not actually contain bark from the Angostura tree.

With a delightful two-color vintage-style interior, over fifty drink recipes, growing tips for gardeners, and advice that carries Stewart's trademark wit, this is the perfect gift for gardeners and cocktail aficionados alike. 

 

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Carol's Rating: ★★★★

This is such a fun, informative book! I borrowed it from the library and loved it so much I ordered my own copy. It's not a story book, it's more of a reference book with witty comments, history, detailed processes, and recipes. Not only is the content great but the book is beautiful. I love the vintage themed cover and pages. Plus, it made me feel smarter with every page I read. I'm convinced my brain has grown since reading it. I may need to buy new hats. This is a book I'll return to again and again. It does not disappoint!

About the Author

Amy Stewart Author
Photo Credit: Delightful Eye Photography

Amy Stewart

Amy Stewart is the New York Times best-selling author of nine books, including Girl Waits with Gun and the rest of the Kopp Sisters series, which are based on the true story of one of America’s first female deputy sheriffs and her two rambunctious sisters. Her popular nonfiction titles include The Drunken Botanist, Wicked Plants, and Flower Confidential.

Stewart grew up in Arlington, Texas, with her father, the musician Vic Stewart, who toured with Doc Severinsen’s road band; her mother, Dee Stewart, who had a career in public relations; and her younger brother, Jason Stewart, who is a film and television editor. She graduated from Arlington High School and received a B.A. degree in anthropology and a master's in community and regional planning (MSCRP) from the University of Texas at Austin. 

She lives in Portland with her husband Scott Brown, a rare book dealer. They own an independent bookstore called Eureka Books, which is so independent that it lives in California while they live in Oregon. 

You might’ve heard Amy on NPR’s Morning Edition or Fresh Air, or seen her profiled in such esteemed publications as the New York Times and Earthworm Digest. Her checkered television career includes CBS Sunday Morning, Good Morning America, the PBS documentary The Botany of Desire, and–believe it or not– TLC’s Cake Boss. (The cake was delicious.)

Amy’s books have been translated into seventeen languages, one of which she can actually read.   Her 2009 book Wicked Plants has been adapted into a national traveling exhibit that terrifies children at science museums nationwide.

Her mother is very impressed that she was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, the American Horticulture Society’s Book Award, and an International Association of Culinary Professionals Food Writing Award. In 2012, she was invited to be the first Tin House Writer-in-Residence, a partnership with Portland State University, where she corrupted young minds in the MFA program.

Amy travels the country as a highly sought-after public speaker whose spirited lectures have inspired and entertained audiences at college campuses such as Cornell and Harvard, corporate offices like Google (where she served tequila and nearly broke the Internet), conferences and book festivals, botanical gardens, bookstores, and libraries nationwide.

Source: amystewart.com

Book Trailer, Interviews and Sneaky Peaks

A great introduction to this entertaining, informative book 🙂

 
'Drunken Botanist' Takes A Garden Tour Of The Liquor Cabinet
Heard on NPR's Morning Edition
 
The next time you're sipping on a glass of something boozy, consider the plants behind your beverage. Some of them might spring immediately to mind: grapes in your wineglass, rye in your whiskey bottle, juniper in your gin and tonic. But what about sorghum and coriander? Cinchona and bitter orange?
 
Click below to hear Amy's short interview or here to read the transcript.

 
Beware the tiny phylloxera!

First of all, let me say that I am actually not much of an boozy drinker. Sure, I like a glass of wine or mixed drink once in a while, but in truth, it’s probably seldom enough I could count my annual consumption on two hands. After reading though this book, I’ve discovered that the drinks I like most have something in common; They are forms of brandy, which the book tells me “is a generic term for a wine (or other fruit) spirit distilled to 80% alcohol or less, then bottled at 35-40% alcohol.”

I read further to learn about the invention of brandy and discovered something fascinating. By the mid-1500’s the Spanish, Italian, and Dutch had discovered that bland, mediocre wine could be boiled into a stronger form of spirit and “that even vineyard waste could be fermented: crushed skins, stems, and seeds all went back into the fermentation tank to make a high-proof spirit like grappa.”

Whiskey Bottles by Amy Stewart
Source: amystewart.com

As time went on, Europeans further refined their tradition of making rich, complex flavors and forms of wine such as Cognac, Madeira, Marsala, Port, and Sherry. Then the Founding Fathers came to America, and had to import their beloved varieties of wine because they simply could not find native American grapes that would produce decent wine. Even Thomas Jefferson was unsuccessful at growing suitable grapes in his gardens at Monticello. (This caught my attention because I was able to visit Monticello last year. His home and gardens were magnificent!)

So, if native varieties won’t work, why not import and grow some European vines?  They did. They planted them then watched as they withered up and died!  This is where the story gets really good. What they didn’t know was that the European vines were not

phyloxerra - The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart
Phyloxerra by Mother Nature

resistant to the native American pest phylloxera (an aphid type pest) like the American vines were. To make matters worse, before they understood this, they had sent a gift of American vines to France that were unknowingly infested with phylloxera. Arriving in France, the pests were in smorgasbord heaven. They went right to work, devastating French vineyards. It took decades for the reason to be understood and by then, the vineyards were nearly defunct. Finally, with high hopes, they began grafting European vines to the hardy American rootstock, and it worked! Over time they have brought their industry and fine flavored wines back. Pretty interesting, eh? Beware those tiny phylloxera!

 
 

My favorite margarita is made with Blue Curacoa so of course, I loved reading about it’s making by way of bitter orange. Amy Stewart taught me something else I had never given thought to:

Why do more fresh oranges come from California than from Florida?

Here's what I found out: Oranges need cool nights to help the fruit turn from green to orange. Florida does not cool down at night like California does. Therefore, while oranges from both states might be ripe, the oranges from California look more appealing than the green oranges from Florida. So there you have it. The more appealing orange colored California oranges are eaten fresh and the less appealing green Florida oranges are juiced.

See what I mean? Can't you feel your brain growing as you learn this stuff? You may need to buy new hats, too! 🙂

 
The phylloxera wine louse is back with a vengeance

Post Magazine | 3 Nove 2016

By Nellie Ming Lee

Phyloxerra Is Back with A Vengeance
Photo Source: www.scmp.com

Vineyards in California and Oregon on alert as the pest that devastated Europe’s grapevines in the 1800s turns its sights on once-resistant America

 
...Phylloxera is again rearing its ugly head. Most recently, it has been found in the American states of California and Oregon, where years of grafting vines had somehow weakened them, allowing the pest to thrive...   Read More
 
 
 
 

A Glimpse Inside

 

The Drunken Botanist is not only a beautiful book just to look at but it is teaming with entertaining historical detail, processes, ingredients, and recipes! It is divided into coherent sections: 1) Processes of fermentation and distillation with classic  plants, 2)Suffusing with herbs, spices, flowers, fruits, nuts, seeds…., 3) Botanical mixers and garnishes for cocktails, and lastly, 4) Recipes for cocktails, syrups, infusions and garnishes. So now, not only will you be able to make delicious drinks for yourself and your friends, you’ll be able to wow them with entertaining stories and your knowledge!

The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart
The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart
The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart
The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart
 
 
Pretty interesting, fun stuff so far, right? Well, there's more! Grab your favorite plant-based beverage, cozy in,  and visit my Drunken Botanist Pin on Pinterest. 
 

Follow Carol Ann ~'s board The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart on Pinterest.

Happy Reading!

Down the Garden Path by Beverly Nichols

Down the Garden Path by Beverly Nichols

 

Down the Garden Path by Beverly Nichols
Source: Goodreads.com

Down the Garden Path

Beverly Nichols

Hardcover, 290 pages
Published December 13th 2004 by Timber Press (first published 1931)
 
Down the Garden Path has stood the test of time as one of the world's best-loved and most-quoted gardening books. Ostensibly an account of the creation of a garden in Huntingdonshire in the 1930s, it is really about the underlying emotions and obsessions for which gardening is just a cover story.
 
The secret of this book's success---and its timelessness---is that it does not seek to impress the reader with a wealth of expert knowledge or advice. Beverley Nichols proudly declares his status as a newcomer to gardening: "The best gardening books should be written by those who still have to search their brains for the honeysuckle's languid Latin name..."
 
As unforgettable as the plants in the garden is the cast of visitors and neighbors who invariably turn up at inopportune moments. For every angelic Miss Hazlitt there is an insufferable Miss Wilkins waiting in the wings. For every thought-provoking Professor, there is an intrusive Miss M, whose chief offense may be that she is a 'damnably efficient' gardener. From a disaster building a rock garden, to further adventures with greenhouses, woodland gardens, not to mention cats and treacle, Nichols has left us a true gardening classic.
 
 

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Carol's Rating: ★★★★

A Gem of a Story and a Book to Treasure

In this entertaining story, the first volume of the Allways Trilogy, Beverly Nichols leads you down the path of his own gardening journey. He doesn't claim to know everything. In fact, he does just the opposite. He flat out tells you he's a gardening novice and to our pleasure, that doesn't hold him back at all. He has the desire and motivation to jump in with both feet and see what happens. You're the lucky one that get's to ride along as he puts plans into action that often leaving you scratching your head in dismay yet always smiling at the outcome.

He loves puttering in his gardens and walking the paths, which he insists on traveling start to finish because that is when you discover miracles. His determination in finding tiny, blossoming treasures in the winter snow is a delight as is his dry humor regarding neighbors that range from the nosy to the flirtatious to the gardening nemeses. He's the friend that keeps you in stitches because he's bold enough to say exactly what you're thinking but didn't dare say out loud! 

The book has some wonderful special touches that I loved such as the sketched map of his gardens and the touching illustrations that divide the book into the four seasons. There is also something very curious on every 16th page of this book; Just below the last line of text and along the left margin is a single uppercase letter in small print. They appear in alphabetical order. Any ideas why this was done?

If you don't have an appreciation for gardening or flowers or persnickety personalities now, you will by the time you finish this story. It's easy to understand why this book, first published in 1932, has never been out of print!

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Happy Reading!

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