Sure, any tippler knows wine is from grapes, beer from hops. But what of the bottles of hard stuff that populate our liquor cabinets? According to award-winning garden writer Amy Stewart—author of a new book called The Drunken Botanist—these potent draughts and their mixed-drink progeny have more of a botanical blueprint than we realize, and are thus easier to recreate at home than the moderately green-thumbed have previously imagined.
Stewart's mission: find “the odd, unusual, and surprisingly common plants” that can be transformed into alcohol. The book discusses ordinary crops like wheat, barley, and sorghum, as well as the assorted bug and fungi. For aspiring gartenders, Stewart includes over 50 recipes and countless tips for DIY simple syrups, infusions, and liqueurs. Because if the ancients can find a way to make booze out of a cactus, rest assured that you can make alcohol from anything begotten from chlorophyll.
Spirit aficionados can listen to the gregarious Stewart give her spiel on the well over 25 plants comprising a single Manhattan—and perhaps even let you taste one of her concoctions—at her upcoming talk at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park. Bartending advice, including her unabashed assessment of maraschino cherries, will flow freely.
'The Drunken Botanist' by Amy Stewart, Thu March 28, 7–8pm, Third Place Books, 17171 Bothell Way NE, Lake Forest Park, free.