This book is super interesting and I am enjoying the read very much. It flows very nicely so it is easy to read and the information it contains is fascinating, educational and even funny at times. I higly recommend it. So far all the cocktail recipes I have tried have produced delicious drinks!
I have a copy of "Wicked Plants" and though it could not get any better. Well this book might not be getter but a lot more information that helps with understanding economic history and planning gardens. If I do nothing but lounging on the veranda drinking mint julep watching the weeds grow in my half planted garden, at least this book is really entertaining.
I do not know haw Amy Stewart can pack so many unique detail in such a small book.
I saw a page on Tamarind and finally figured out what I have been drinking for years.
Pour les amateurs de spiritueux et de cocktails, les curieux presque geek... Ils seront ravis pas ce livre qui donne une explication sur les principales sources de sucre pour la fermentations et ingrédients pour aromatiser gin liqueurs et autres cocktails. Le livre est bien écrit, joliment relié, agréable à lire.
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96 internautes sur 104 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
"The botanical world produces alcohol in abundance."19 mars 2013
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
Plants soak up CO2 and sunlight and convert it to sugar and exhale oxygen. When sugar is combined with yeast, alcohol is born. So alcohol is very a very close cousin to the substances that make life possible. Yeast is plentiful in the air, which I didnt know, so many staple foods will turn to alcohol with time. I am not a drinker, but I am a gardener, and I am nosey. So I found this encyclodedic book to be delightful reading.
Stewart does a thorough job of describing the the various plants that form the basis of the alcoholic drinks in the world. She adds a few myth busters such as the fact that a worm in mescal actually just means a marketing tool for cheap mescal and is not remotely hallucinogenic. Good cider is made from apples so sour they are called spitters. Gin is actually flavored vodka. These are not spoilers, there are many such facts. In addition, she feeds my garden soul with the history of how these plants were found, mutated, grown, etc. And she points out which plants have very toxic relatives which look remarkably like the good cultivers so these you should not pick in the wild.
She addresses the taste of each type of drink, how they taste, and how to make a cocktail with each type. And for us clueless types, she describes the "top shelf" specimens and what makes them premium. SHe also explicates the appropriate mixers and herb additives and how these came into popular use. The drink recipes seem intriguing as well. I especially enjoyed the nuggets of social history that accompany the text, for example the extreme creation of the slave trade to harvest the sugar so vital for rum.
I enjoyed reading this book. It is more a collection of essays or entries than one narrative. As such, it makes perfect reading for those short breaks we all take. I personally got a bit weary with all the different permutations of alcohol and their precursors, but overall found the text to be full of information that I didnt know; much of it is fun to know. As a source book, I would find it excellent. Right now, different variations of familiar drinks and alcohols are particularly popular, so I would especially recommend this book to people who like to experiment with combinations. For the rest of us, we learn something new, always an excellent attribute in a book.
43 internautes sur 47 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Grab A Drink. Grab This Book.21 mars 2013
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Oh, Amy Stewart, you've done it again!! Previously, in Wicked Plants and Wicked Bugs, we learned how potentially benign gifts of nature can be our deadly undoing. That made us all much more cautious and caused all sorts of stress and worry. And, how did we cope and calm down? We had a simple and refreshing libation. Now, in The Drunken Botanist, we learn that our basic alcohol over ice with a dash of whatever and a splash of something and a sprig for a picturesque finish is not so simple after all. It's wrought with geography and history and botany and chemistry and politics and enough complexity to make one wish for simpler days of temperance and Prohibition. Well, that may be taking it too far, but it's at least enough to cause one to quickly sit down, pour oneself a drink, grab this book, and ponder what to do next!
It's always best in arenas of the unknown to start at the beginning and that is exactly what The Drunken Botanist does. To understand and appreciate the book is just like making a cocktail. Part I enumerates the plants that are used to make the basic varieties of alcohol. You quickly learn that there are almost an unlimited number of results of fermentation or distillation. What you get usually is dependent upon plant availability, geography, or tradition. What you do with your basic alcohol (aging, etc.) can then produce the next range of products.
Moving on to Part II, we now start adding various herbs and spices, flowers, trees, fruit, and nuts and seeds to our "basic" alcohol. This is how we get to that whole range of liqueurs, crèmes, fruit-this and nut-that. I'm particularly intrigued by the origins and history and varieties of gin. I've long said that there should be a museum of gin. And do you know anyone else who carries a little picture card in his wallet showing some ten botanicals in gin!
What is striking at this point is how important the varieties of alcohol and spices have been in the trade and commerce and history of the world.
Part III finishes the cocktail with the bounty of the garden used, as some would say, a garnish, but more importantly as fresh ingredients in your libation or as an integral part of a well-considered finished product.
There's a basic backbone that runs through The Drunken Botanist so that it's readable for a good knowledge and understanding of the depth and breadth of the subject, but there are also so, so many small sections and sidebars that can be read separately (and at random). There's more basic knowledge and trivial pleasure here than you could quickly skim through.
So, taking my gin martini ... on ice with dry vermouth and orange bitters ... in hand, I'm ready to read on. The only thing that I might ask for is some new liquor that might stand as tall as the redwoods of Amy Stewart's northwestern California. St. George Spirits has their Botanivore gin with 19 botanicals, Anchor Distilling (San Francisco) has their Junipero gin, and Clear Creek Distillery produces Douglas fir eau-de-vie. Maybe something along the lines of a Sequoia semprevirens liqueur. Hmmm.
47 internautes sur 53 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Intelligent Writing with a dry wit!23 mars 2013
- Publié sur Amazon.com
This book turned out to be an excellent reference on plants and their many uses by humans. The author discussed many plant uses beside fermenting plant starches into sugars by the addition of yeasts. One could tell the author loved discussing plants with the occasional witty remark and her extensive knowledge of each of the various species. If one could find a fault with the book, it might be the inclusion of many species of which all but those engaged in botanical research would be familiar. But that aside the book was a fun and informative read. The author chose to list all the various plants by their common names rather than list them by their Latin nomenclature, as is more typical in many botanical references, and this point was greatly appreciated.
Although there were hundreds of interesting facts regarding the various plant species, I would like to list just a few to give the readers an idea that the book was interesting and did not just discuss making booze.
1. We learn the Barley is the most prolific grain at converting its starches into sugar to make alcohol because it has a high level of enzymes and that it is an easy plant to grow not being much affected by cold, drought, or poor soil conditions. 2. Peat is what gives Scotch its particular taste. 3. Kentucky produces 90% of all the bourbon in the world. [p47] 4. Cork comes from the Portuguese Oak [Quercus Suber. It is stripped annually with each tree yielding about 4k corks, primarily used in wine bottling, yet the trees regenerate new bark each year and live for about 2 centuries before finally dying. 5. The real difference between American and Canadian whiskeys is that each batch of American whiskey reguires a new oak barrel, while Canadians can use barrels previously used for making wine or whiskey before. This gives it more flavor than American bourbon, but each batch may taste slightly different depending on what the barrels had previously held. 6. Absinthe doesn't make you drunk [crazy] because of the wormwood being fermented but the fact that it was originally bottles at 70% ABV as opposed to Brandy commonly bottled at 40% ABV. Since it was 75% stronger you got drunk and started acting crazy much sooner than had you been drinking Brandy which was very commonly drunk when people favored absinthe. In this regard think of Henry Miller and Anais Nin. 7. Vodka became popular in America only after WWII because distillers couldn't get enough grain to use, so begged potato growers to send them all the small and misshapen potatoes they had, since appearance wouldn't matter. Distillers sold 1M gallons of Vodka in 1946 and 30M by 1965. BTW, Vodka uses rye, wheat, and other grains in its manufacture, but most Americans think of it as only made from Potatoes. There is also a big controversy over where Vodka originated, whether Poland or Russia. [p70] 8. We also learn that that the agave plant used to make Tequila is not a cactus but a member of the asparagus family, and that each plant yields enough sap to make about 250 gallons of maguay beer, which was drunk some 2K years ago. How do we know that; well it is because some scientist analyzed some 2k year old coprofites. :-0 9. Although humans have about 25k different genes, an apple tree has 57k.
There was also a nice and lengthy section on herbs made from the green or fleshy part of plants and spices made from the bark, root, stem, or seed of plants.
As you can see there was a lot more to the book than the simple making of booze. Highly recommended.
53 internautes sur 68 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
A reference book really. Interesting in parts.19 mars 2013
- Publié sur Amazon.com
I have always been fascinated by certain famous authors who attributed many of their most celebrated works of imagination to alcoholic drinks. Most famous of these is absinthe, the "green fairy", credited by Oscar Wilde, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Ernest Hemingway and many others for its ability to spur creativity (and at 150 proof, the inability to do much else other than sit there and imagine things). Absinthe is not, as I previously assumed, derived from the absinthe plant; such is my ignorance of botanical knowledge, there is no such plant. Absinthe is, in reality, a mixture of flowers, leaves and herbs. In a way, I really needed this book: imagine my embarrassment, sometime in the future, speaking about the "absinthe plant" had I not read about its true origins in this book.
However, that's what the book is, mostly: an encyclopedic reference on plants and the alcoholic drinks derived from them. This is not a book to sit there and read cover to cover, with a cohesive narrative throughout; it's a very 'dry' read, a reference book. A very odd, disjointed layout design doesn't help either. Interesting in parts, good as a drinks guide (it includes 50 cocktail recipes) and with sections on growing plants and fermentation. If you're buying it as a reference book, you'll like it: it does have interesting facts. Buying it for an engaging and interesting read - not so much.
11 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
A charming bouquet of botanical blossoms to raise your spirits--literally!31 mars 2013
- Publié sur Amazon.com
As I glanced through the previous twelve reviews of Amy Stewart's latest classic I had to chuckle! What a serious lot! Have we Americans become so serious that we have so utterly missed the boat? The Drunken Gardener (like everything else Amy Stewart writes) has hit the nail square on the head: of COURSE it is a reference book! It is an anothology of every major plant used in creating spirits--but so much more: she has dredged up all sorts of abstruse lore that is simply facinating...whoever dreamed there were drinks concocted out of artichoke, or Angostura (whatever THAT is?)and an obscure Eurasian buffalo grass that is the primary food of aurochs (which she calls wisent)...Have contemporary readers never heard of the pastiche? The pillowbook? Have we lost all vestiges of Victorian (or at least Edwardian) will to while away a day learning something for the heck of it? Must all our bedsides now have chained to them a McBook (or worse, our waterclosets?) Does no one nowadays recognize the size and shape and format of the "occasional" book, meant for perusing but well worth a cover to cover read? As a dye-in-the-wool Horticulturist, I am relieved and delighted to know that we gardeners (and botanists) are all so fond of liquor for a darned good reason: all spirits consist of plain water plus plants! Heck, we're not tippling! We're doing research!
May I suggest Amy Stewart did a great deal of spirited research producing her latest witty, informative and charming volume. If you are not yet one of Stewart's throng of fans, this book is apt to tip the scale (as it were) and send you in search of her growing oeuvre, a shelf full of wonderfully retro-looking, attractive volumes filled with scholarship and written with a compelling, rhythmic prose that one would expect of the proprietor (with her husband) of an Antiquarian bookshop in San Francisco (which I assume has become a sort of Mecca for her growing band of admirers).
The Drunken Botanist is classic Stewart: it is the compact size and shape and format that lends itself to the bed stand or (perhaps other smaller rooms in the house, if you get my drift), where most chapters are just long enough to read one or two at a sitting (as it were). Each short section is complete unto itself so you can soon nod off to sleep safely in your bed without feeling compelled to a marathon finish, or have an overly heavy tome startle you by falling on your nose.
The stories! What a wonderful storybook for grown-ups! Who knew so many plants went into liquors and liqueurs! There are concise disquisitions on the usual suspects: agave, wheat, grapes, barley, hops. But who know Maidenhair fern was used to create "capillaire syrup"-a concoction with a pedigree. The book is rife with quaint quotations from old herbals and recipes for drinks primarily, although I was charmed by her sagacious tip for "the Perfect Pastis" which starts with the ingredients: "1 plane ticket to Paris, 1 summer afternoon, 1 sidewalk cafe" and then she explains how to order and properly prepare your drink (it took little for me to summon the shades of Maupassant, Edith Piaf and Seurat (perhaps) strolling past one as one sips one's aromatic drink in the dappled light). Quel délice!
Although an avid gardener (and an exhaustive researcher), there are a few tiny blemishes that only seem to add a touch of charm to the book: Lavandula angustifolia is not synonymous with Lavandula x intermedia: the former is a parent of the latter in the same way that Willliam Jackson Hooker is not synonymous with Joseph Dalton Hooker after all...albeit both were Regius Keepers of Kew.
But the few solecisms I detected did not diminish my delight with wealth of anecdotes and useful information contained throughout the book.
I have been lucky enough to hear Amy speak when she was traveling promoting her Wicked Plants volume. And you can hear her discussing this latest book on a recent NPR segment that conveys her conversational tone and scholarly depth pretty effectively. It is worth Googling.
No one living has served the Plant Kingdom so faithfully or charmingly or wittily as Amy Stewart. Perhaps Michael Pollan has--in his powerful way. Considering this Kingdom provides us all our sustenance for food, the oxygen we breathe (and let's not forget the spirits we drink! most importantly), her status as High Priestess of Mother Flora is nothing to scoff at. If you do not have a shelf with the swelling ranks of trim, quaint and colorful volumes by Stewart, your library is a dull affair indeed.