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The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create…

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

by Amy Stewart

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8924615,059 (4.04)99
  1. 10
    The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St Clair (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Similarly structured, they actually arrive at a lot of the same historical reference points as they each present a portrait of human history and natural science through their own tiny lens.
  2. 10
    Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan (fyrefly98)
    fyrefly98: The Drunken Botanist focuses entirely on fermentation of various plants, while Cooked also delves into other cooking processes, but they both have a similar approach to looking at both the natural and the cultural history of the things we consume.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
Awesomely informative and a fertile source of culinary ideas. ( )
  Rubygarnet | Feb 11, 2019 |
An educational book about the history, process, and other facts about drinks and the plants that go in them. Amy Stewart is a brilliant writer; the crazy facts she threw into this was amazing (jasmine can either smell like honey or urine to a person).

The only downside was that I listened to this on audio, and the narrator was not my speed. I felt like I was in college lecture all over again. This has nothing to do with the content of the book, which I highly recommend! Just maybe get the physical copy, and not audio.

Plus this has recipes! And you get to learn of any incidents of possible drunk animals eating naturally fermented fruit in the wild. ( )
  JPetersonReads | Dec 23, 2018 |
This is one of those books which you can read cover to cover or one chapter at a time. It helps if you enjoy alcohol as the book provides historical background information in addition to botanical information. Overall this is both an entertaining and informative read. ( )
  Chin-A-Sen | Sep 4, 2018 |
This book is broken down into different sections such as Part I: We Explore the Twin Alchemical Processes of Fermentation and Distillation, From Which Wine, Beer, and Spirits Issue Forth; Part II: We Then Suffuse Your Creations With A Wonderous Assortment of Nature's Bounty Herbs and Spices, Flowers, Trees, Fruit, Nuts and Seeds; Part III At Last we Venture Forth Into the Garden, Where we Encounter a Seasonal Array of Botanical Mixers and Garnishes To Be Introduced To the Cocktail In Its Final Stage of Preparation.

The shrub Damiana that grows in Mexico has long been believed to be an aphrodisiac. In 1879 a doctor wrote that it could be given to female patients to "produce in her the very important yet not absolutely essential orgasm." For decades people made imitation Damiana, sometimes made of strychnine and sold it as the real deal. However, in 2009 a study on rats showed that sexually exhausted rats could perform again quicker if given Damiana. No explanation was given as to how they exhausted the rats and no human trials have ever been given. The herbal liqueur is often sold in a bottle shaped like a fertility goddess.

"Beer is not made from hops. It is made from barley, and sometimes other grains then flavored with hops." Hops make the beer last longer. It is said that the reason the Mayflower landed on Plymouth Rock is that their beer had soured and they had nothing to drink. The Hop vine is from the cannabis family and is closely related to the sticky cannabis flower buds. Getting a harvest of hops in has always been a difficult task, though it is easier now than it used to be. First, it only grows where there is sunlight for thirteen hours a day, so 35 to 55 degrees north and south latitude. It is grown in Oregan and Washington, China and Japan, Australia and New Zealand, Zimbabwe and South Africa, and of course, England and Germany.

Then you have to make sure the seeds set and reproduce. The vines are grown on trellises. The vines have these little bristles on them that are abrasive and leave welts when you pick the hops by hand, which some people still do. Hops are also highly flammable. They can easily spontaneously combust and burn a barn or warehouse down. Then they have to be bottled in dark bottles in order to keep the light from spoiling the hops. By the way, any beer maker that tells you to put a lime in your beer is trying to get you to disguise the skankiness of their beer from its spoilage. To grow them you go to a lot of trouble, but for beer drinkers, it does seem worth it.

Engineer, Amedee Francois Frezier was sent to Peru and Chile to make a reliable map of the area in 1712. The problem was it was under Spanish Control and he was French, so he went undercover as a traveling merchant. While he made quite a few great maps, he also picked up some plants. In Europe, they did have strawberries, but they were small, nothing like the large Chilean strawberries. So he grabbed some to sneak out of the country. Only five of those plants survived. He gave two to the ship's cargo master as a gesture of thanks for letting him use the limited supply of the ship's water on the voyage. One went to his supervisor and one to the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, which left one for himself. There was only one problem. The plants were sterile. Chilean strawberries are either male, female, or bisexual. He chose the ones with the biggest fruits and they were all females. They needed a male to reproduce. Luckily they eventually discovered that the Chilean strawberry could be crossed with males from strawberries of other species. By the mid-nineteenth century, it was mated to the native Virginian species and the modern strawberry was born and put into all sorts of mixed drinks.

Stewert makes reading about plants and such fascinating. They all have such interesting stories to tell and most of them have been around for thousands of years, with some going back as far as the Jurassic period. They've been used for all manner of things besides an alcoholic beverage too. For example, the star anise has long been used in herbal liqueurs, but 90% of its production is used to make Tamiflu. There is not much that people haven't tried to make alcohol out of including trees, which to me seems an odd choice. This book also includes recipes for various intriguing drinks and additives, such as syrups as well as tips on how to grow your own plants, herbs, flowers, fruits, and trees. Alcohol has been a part of humanity since the beginning of time. This incredible book illustrates how this has come to be and how they are used today. I really enjoyed this fun and delectable book that has inspired me to experiment in my home bar and truly appreciate what I've been drinking. This book is a must-read. ( )
  nicolewbrown | Jun 20, 2018 |
I don't think this book was BAD, it just wasn't my thing? It might be a science writing stylistic thing or just this book, but the sections, although short, were still not the most interesting things in the world to me. It's not a long book? And I certainly did learn some things about plants and alcohol, and if you're into that kind of thing there are lots of fancy fancy cocktail recipes for you to try! But it wasn't inspiring and we'll see how much sticks with me in the days and weeks after I put it aside. ( )
  aijmiller | May 12, 2017 |
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The inspiration for this book came from a chance encounter at a convention of garden writers in Portland, Oregon.
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Amy Stewart explores the dizzying array of herbs, flowers, trees, fruits, and fungi that humans have, through ingenuity, inspiration, and sheer desperation, contrived to transform into alcohol over the centuries.

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