Looking for a little light reading now that you’ve finished the “Fifty Shades” books? If you are or want to be a cocktail enthusiast, here’s a suggestion for your bedside table: The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart.
This is an absolutely delightful book, well written in clear and engaging style, making a somewhat esoteric science topic (botany) engaging and interesting in layman’s terms. It’s the best kind of learning experience, informative, entertaining, and practically applicable all at the same time.
The Drunken Botanist, subtitled “The Plants That Create The World’s Great Drinks,” begins appropriately enough with a cocktail (or three) in Portland, a city justly famed for being an epicenter for such.
Author Amy Stewart had one of those epiphanetic moments with the convergence of a gardening convention (there’s the botanical part) and the after-hours inspiration to create a cocktail based on a botanically inspired beverage, the locally produced Aviation Gin from House Spirits.
Stewart had a sudden thought (“I could write a book about this!), neatly combining vocation and avocation, and the eventual result was The Drunken Botanist.
This is a book that is delightful on many levels, not the least of which is the ability to painlessly transmit knowledge and then utilize that knowledge in the pursuit of pleasure. With The Drunken Botanist you’ll learn something you probably didn’t know on every page; and what’s more, you’ll be inspired to use that knowledge in a practical and rewarding manner to make better cocktails, or enjoy creative cocktails that others have made for you.
This book is good enough it should be required reading for every creative professional bartender; it’s also written well enough it can be read casually by enthusiastic cocktail drinkers...or gardeners, or cooks, or people with questing minds.
There’s a caveat though: read this book and you’ll walk the dangerous line between amazing your friends with the accumulated wisdom of tidbits of botanical and cocktail knowledge and boring them to tears. With great power comes great responsibility.
The Drunken Botanist is published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, a division of Workman Publishing. It is a New York Times Bestseller and is widely available online or in bookstores. (Powell’s of Portland has numerous copies in stock, naturally.)