A 15 Minute Trip Around the World via the Internet

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Weekly Web Links:

Historical Book Review for the Week:

The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart

Drunken Botanist

So, initially I wasn’t reading this book for historical content.  It was more that it caught my interest for horticultural (alcoholic) reasons.  I just really wanted to learn about the plants (and how to make them into drinks).  100% in the name of botanical science (cocktail recipes).

However, Amy Stewart does an amazing job covering the historical aspects on a number of the plants, tree, fruits, and flowers that are covered throughout the course of this book.  For example:

  • apples emerged around the time that dinosaurs went extinct
  • grapes were established in Asia, Europe and the Americas 50 million years ago
  • during prohibition, California grape growers sold blocks of dried, compressed grapes packaged together with wine-making yeast; an accompanying labeled warned against dissolving the fruit in warm water and adding the yeast as this would produce alcohol
  • juniper dates back 250 million years to the point in time when the continents were still joined to form Pangaea
  • the residue of wine laced with tree resin has been found at archaeological sites dating to the neolithic period

And, possibly my favorite little fact, there is an archaeologist whose topic of study is the origin of alcoholic beverages.  I think this individual and I would get along wonderfully.

The one critique I would have of this, is that the author has … higher quality standards then I do … in regards to her ingredients, mixes, and garnishes for cocktails and the tone can come across as slightly condescending at various points.  A comment regarding how only freshly squeezed orange juice is acceptable as a mix springs to mind.  But, if you just take the information you want out of the reading of this and ignore the rest than it is a great read which has provided me with a ton of recipes that I’m going to have to work my way through.


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