The Drunken Botanist

  • by Amy Stewart
  • Narrated by Coleen Marlo
  • 10 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Every great drink starts with a plant. Sake began with a grain of rice. Scotch emerged from barley. Gin was born from a conifer shrub when medieval physicians boiled juniper berries with wine to treat stomach pain. The Drunken Botanist uncovers the surprising botanical history and fascinating science and chemistry of over 150 plants, flowers, trees, and fruits (and even a few fungi).
Some of the most extraordinary and obscure plants have been fermented and distilled, and they each represent a unique cultural contribution to global drinking traditions and our history. Molasses was an essential ingredient of American independence when outrage over a mandate to buy British rather than French molasses for New World rum-making helped kindle the American Revolution. Captain James Cook harvested the young, green tips of spruce trees to make a vitamin C-rich beer that cured his crew of scurvy - a recipe that Jane Austen enjoyed so much that she used it as a plot point in Emma.
With over 50 drink recipes, growing tips for gardeners, and advice that carries Stewart's trademark wit, this is the perfect listen for gardeners and cocktail aficionados alike.


What the Critics Say

"A rich compendium of botanical lore for cocktail lovers." (Kirkus)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

No more cheap tequila!

Last night, I realized Amy Stewart’s “The Drunken Botanist: The Plants that Create the World’s Great Drinks” had ruined my uneducated, uncomplicated boring and cheap occasional drink. I wanted a drink to go with my take-out Japanese food last night. I went to a liquor store, found the right aisle and selected a reasonably priced Junmai Ginjo-shu. I knew what I was getting (fairly high grade rice wine) and why I wanted sake labeled Junmai (made with rice only, no added alcohol from other sources). A couple of weeks ago, I wouldn’t have known what to look for.

- In the future, I’ll ask the pedigree of tequila and avoid mixto.
- I no longer think Amaretto di Serrano is made from almonds. It might taste of almonds, but it’s made of apricot pits.
- If I run into anything bottled by Dogfish Head Brewery, I’ll try it. It might be brewed or distilled from a recipe that’s thousands of years old.
- I’ve never liked a whisky or bourbon I’ve tried, and now I know why – and what I should look for in the future.

I do wish Audible had a true table of contents. “The Drunken Botanist” has three sections: Part I is devoted to fermentation and distillation, from Agave to wheat. Part II discusses specific fruits, nuts and trees. Part III talks about gardening, and has some great recommendations for selecting plants, and helpful gardening tips.

Throughout the book, there are fun drink recipes, introduced by the “tap, tap” of a utensil on a glass.

NPR’s Rene Montagne had a fun interview with Stewart on Morning Edition, and the New York Time’s Steven Kurutz and the Los Angeles Time’s Debra Prinzing liked the book, too. I’ll join them in raising a Champaign mojito in a toast to Stewart and her new book!

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- Cynthia "Always moving. Always listening. Always learning. "After all this time?" "Always.""

Forget the audio; buy the book

There are some books that just don't lend themselves to being read out loud and this is one of them. This is more of a reference book and just does not lend itself to being read like a story. It is meant to be browsed and referred to over and over again.

That is not to say that it is a bad book, because it isn't. It is chock full of fascinating information. This is one of those books that you are going to want to underline, jot notes and stick flags in so that you can find your way back to the noteworthy--and you can't do that with an iPod.

As for the narrator. Terrible choice. Can't pronounce the foreign vocabulary. I know she made mistakes on the Spanish so I can only imagine how she butchered the other languages.

As I said, don't waste your money on the audio. If you are at all interested, buy the book.
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- A "No vampires. No zombies. No self-help. Find me on BookLikes. Audible Member since 2002!"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-19-2013
  • Publisher: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books