Curiosity killed the cat—possibly “Old Tom” himself, a gin palace, vending-machine-like dispenser of old British style sweetened gin that in 1875, British journalist James Greenwood described as having a “… fiery nature and the sharp and lasting effects of its teeth and claws on all who dared to venture on a bout with it …”. But lucky for the rest of us, (and possibly less lethal), bestselling author Amy Stewart’s latest book, The Drunken Botanist, the Plants that Create the World’s Great Drinks, satisfies in every way.
After examining a beginner’s first garden, earthworms, imported flowers, and toxic plants and bugs (her previous books in order of release) Stewart’s publishing path could be called as circuitous as a drunken bumblebee in high summer. A curious dirt gardener and master storyteller with a keen intellect and a passion for research, in Drunken, she takes her reader on a delicious romp through agriculture (agave to wheat), and the laboratory (fermentation and distillation), with regular wanderings down the garden path.
Stewart is at once a nerdy botanist and witty conversationalist—just the sort I dream of encountering at dreadful cocktail parties where more than likely I’m left to weigh in on politics, technology, or *shudder* sports. This is no happy hour big gulp or drunken frat house punch, but like a well-crafted cocktail—measured, balanced, and responsible—an entertaining look at cocktail culture laced with historical references and botanical etymology. Recipes included: cocktails, syrups, infusions, and garnishes.
The Drunken Botanist is a perfect read for a lazy day in the shade of a tree or patio awning, sipping something concocted and cool from page 348, “Garden Cocktails: a template for experimentation.” Cheers!
Lorene Edwards Forkner, editor