Friday, June 14, 2013

Besotted with the Drunken Botanist

Have you heard about the new book titled The Drunken Botanist?  It's apparently all over the place, including the New York Times bestseller list.  I don't know how I missed it up to now, but it's so hard to keep up with everything.

Amy Stewart has already written books, six I think, like Wicked Bugs - all about the natural world.  But she had an epiphany while visiting a liquor store - every kind of spirit in there was made of some sort of plant material. In fact, most of them were made from a rather large variety of plants - grains, herbs, flowers, etc.  Inspiration for another book, plus a lot of fun experimenting with cocktail recipes as "research".

She believes that knowing more about what goes into the glass - the origins, history, stories and traditions - can lead to better-made drinks.  The Drunken Botanist includes 50 drink recipes, as well as recipes for syrups, infusions and garnishes such as refrigerator pickles and maraschino cherries.  The drink recipes are simple and classic, emphasizing variations that highlight a particular plant's use in liquor.

Amy also includes growing information for many of the ingredients/plants.  And Territorial Seed Co. has created a plant collection of her favorites, grouped by liquor of course.  I found the little plant starter packs at Sorticulture last weekend and was instantly smitten.

There's the Old Havana Rum collection, the Farmer's Market Garden Vodka collection, the Heart of Agave Tequila collection, the Southern Belle whiskey collection, and the Old Tom Gin collection.  I ended up with that last one - mostly because I already was growing a bunch of plants in those other collections.  Such sweet little herbs and veggies in all of them - mine has some adorable Mexican sour gherkins that look like miniature watermelons, but taste like zesty cukes.

There were also Mixologist plant collections - filled with herbs for infusing and making simple syrups.  Again, I already had most of these herbs in my yard, so I didn't buy one of those plant sets.  But the whole idea is so up my alley.  I love to infuse liquors - do it all year round.  Make my own pickles too.  Just made a few jars of chive blossom and oregano vinegars last week that are marinating for the next month.  I'm really excited to get into this gardener / mixologist cocktail stuff!

Want to know more?

Great NPR Interview.
Her so-called never-ending speaking tour schedule.
Plus you can follow her on Pinterest, where she's got a ton of cocktail recipes.  Cheers!