Amy Stewart

Originally a botanist, Amy followed her heart to two things she loves: drinks and the plants that make them. She’s been widely published in magazines and newspapers; The Drunken Botanist is Amy’s sixth book.

Amy marches through the alphabet explaining every single ingredient crucial to beers, wines, and spirits. She then introduces us to the more bizarre ingredients that make up little-known libations; try, for instance, a brew from the Marula fruit—as legend has it elephants get woozy from nibbling the fermented fallen fruit. Amy then ventures into the world of flavors that we add to these foundational brews and concludes with mixers and garnishes. Sprinkled throughout are recipes for drinks and cocktails.

Smoke and mirrors be gone! Amy, botanical sleuth extraordinaire, discloses the mystery behind all things flora. Reading The Drunken Botanist is like getting all your questions answered before you had the words to ask them.

From the varieties of oak used for barrel aging and the coopers that craft them to the obscure herbs lurking at the bottom of gin’s exhaustive list of ingredients, Amy has researched the botanical lineage, historical minutia, and current trends of each of these plants. “Oak trees are ‘ring porous’, which means that the vessels that carry water up the tree are found in the outer growth ring. As the tree matures, the older vessels become plugged with crystalline structures called tyloses, and as a result, the center of the tree—the heartwood—doesn’t conduct water at all, making it well suited for use as a watertight barrel”. Well now. Ain’t that sumthin?

Fancy tidbits aside, Amy also addresses the crux of the matter. She tells us exactly how to use these ingredients for which we have a newfound awe in over 50 cocktail and drink recipes.