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

Amy Stewart
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

19 Mar 2013
An intoxicating and eclectic new book on the hidden botany behind your favourite booze! This quirky guide explains the chemistry and botanical history of over 150 plants, trees, flowers and fruits, showing how they form the bases of our favourite cocktails. Amy Stewart offers gardeners growing tips and provides cocktail enthusiasts with 50 drink recipes, as well as a rounded knowledge of the processes and plants which go into popular concoctions.
--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 381 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill; 1 edition (19 Mar 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616200464
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616200466
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 15.5 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 716,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Amy Stewart is the bestselling author of five books on the perils and pleasures of the natural world. Her essays and commentaries have appeared on NPR, in the New York Times, and in Fine Gardening and other magazines. Stewart is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and the American Horticultural Society's 2010 Book Award. She lives in Eureka, CA, where she and her husband own an antiquarian bookstore. Find her online at and at

Product Description


'A cook's tour of the stupefying array of plants that we ferment for their intoxicating properties, plus some delicious looking cocktail recipes; from gin with violet flowers to vodka with walnuts, just reading them will set your tastebuds tingling!' (New Scientist magazine) --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Amy Stewart is the bestselling author of five books on the pleasures (and perils) presented by the natural world including Wicked Plants and Wicked Bugs, also published by Timber Press. She lives in Eureka, California, where she and her husband own an antiquarian bookstore. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Booze of the World 8 Mar 2013
By Roochak
Amy Stewart is, hands down, the coolest plant biology nerd ever. In the centuries-long human quest to brew or distill a stiff drink from whatever ingredients our ancestors could get their hands on, she's authoritative on such topics as why sorghum turns up in more alcoholic beverages than grapes, despite its terrible taste; on the tradition of serving warmed sake, a practical measure to mask the taste of rotgut rice wine; on the impending ecological disasters facing English gin and Mexican tequila makers; why Russian distillers look down their noses at Polish potato vodka; and why you might want to start slicing up organic lemons, limes, and oranges for your cocktail garnishes, unless you like wax in your drink.

The first part of Stewart's book covers the classic eleven alcohol-friendly plants (agave, apples, barley, corn, grapes, potatoes, rice, rye, sorghum, sugarcane, and wheat): the history of their cultivation, explanations of the distilling processes, science nerd anecdotes, cocktail recipes, and the occasional somber reminder about the long term effects that agribusiness is having on our favorite drinks.
Part two, the longest of the three, covers the botanicals in our bottles: herbs, spices, flowers, trees (including the mind-boggling story of the three-decade legal battle over the "Angostura" trademark), fruits, nuts, and seeds. Part three covers mixers and garnishes, most of which can be grown in your home garden, if you've got the space and the right climate: more herbs, flowers, trees, berries, vines, fruits, and vegetables.

Here's your chance to bone up on the history and science behind that martini. Come to think of it, this book is the perfect gift for people who like to throw cocktail parties.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Could be better.... 13 Mar 2013
By I. Darren TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This is truly a book with a difference. Looking at various popular drinks and the numerous herbs, flowers, trees, fruits and fungi that are used to make them. A liquid botanical garden. What is more there are dozens of recipes to make yourself!

But... you will not find this book an easy read. It is a lot more than just a collection of recipes. It is a distillation, if you pardon the alcoholic pun, of a tremendous amount of reference material into a reasonably easy-to-read (if you concentrate) format with the recipes acting as a contrast. At times it feels like an information overload and you might need a drink or two to relax after reading it. Maybe that is the idea? Self-produced medication.

The book's design attempts to be friendly and "different" but unfortunately it still feels a little disjointed, psychedelic and unfocused - as if someone has just discovered a desktop publishing program on their computer and they are trying out all the features. It just didn't work, for this reviewer at least, and it seemed to get in the way of the excellent content. An unnecessary distraction. An attempt to be twee and cute and failing. If you can isolate yourself away from the design, perhaps with the aid of a snorter or two, then there is no doubting the quality and depth of the underlying information. It translates into a fascinating, thought provoking read. A lot of "light bulb" moments might occur whilst reading the book when seemingly obvious things are highlighted about everyday botanical elements.

A book of this kind needs a great index. Unfortunately this review copy did not have an index to evaluate, so that might be something you should check out prior to purchase.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's in your drink? 21 Dec 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Fascinating research; an interesting premise. What a fund of information and wide spread of detail. I couldn't put it down and sent it to my son who makes his own wine from hedgerow gatherings. As he said it was "right up my street." So we both enjoyed it immensely.
Anyone who has wondered about the makeup of their drink should read this. It covers every plant, flower, tree imaginable all over the world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A hit 11 Nov 2013
My husband adores this book which I bought as a birthday gift. He interrupts my reading repeatedly with interesting facts. The only problem is the number of plants he now needs to find room for in our small garden.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great author 18 Jun 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
excellent content layout and illustrationThis author is really easy to read in large or small chunks due to layout so many interesting facts, great recipes
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5.0 out of 5 stars super 9 Jun 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I bought this as a gift for a friend who is interested in plants and brewing beers so it was a perfect gift
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book 7 April 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Awesome book with many interesting and amazing facts in it. Worth every penny. Bought one of these as a present & one for myself also.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book
The best book I've read in ages, written with wit and scientific detail it has been an absolute pleasure to read.
Published 4 months ago by direct-64
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Book
This is a brilliant fascinating book - I read it from cover to cover a while ago & bought this one for my son's Christmas. Read more
Published 5 months ago by jmdalcock
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic informative book
Picked up this book on a quirk - dont regret it - very informative on all the the alcohol producing plants besides trivia on a lot of other botanical plants

Anyone who... Read more
Published 10 months ago by KRISHNA JAGA
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
I love this book, dearly. It came at just the right time as I just started to really get into foraging and study plants in depth for use in drinks. Read more
Published 11 months ago by RosaCoaster
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent addition to flora history
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... Read more
Published 12 months ago by bernie
3.0 out of 5 stars The drunken botanist
Too many cocktail recipes Not enough about plants Difficult to say who this book was written for bar men or botanists
Published 13 months ago by Valerie Hill
5.0 out of 5 stars Another delight from Stewart........ Hic
After Wicked Bugs and Wicked Plants, Stewart has gone in a different direction with this. Again, the book itself is lovely, the contents are informative, interesting and sometimes... Read more
Published 14 months ago by pigsmayfly
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