It's been forever since I've participated in any kind of book club. I'm generally not good with any kind of organized book reading. However, when my friend Sarah emailed to say that she'd won a charity auction that included copies of Drunken Botanist and the opportunity for the author to participate in a book club discussion, I jumped at the chance.
Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World's Greatest Drinks by Amy Stewart is a charming, intelligent compendium of the plants (herbs, flowers, trees, fruit, etc.) behind the alcohol and liquors enjoyed by many. Its combination of history, botany and chemistry is blended with keen storytelling and will appeal to more than your average garden nerd. It is the kind of book you leave on your nightstand and read a new entry from each evening before bed. It's the book that makes you feel better equipped to handle witty, cocktail party banter.
I found Drunken Botanist to be thoroughly delightful, and it turns out that Amy, the author, is equally awesome. At one point in the evening, she managed to succinctly hit the nail on the head of why I'm not just inherently uncool because I often sit at a bar and struggle with what drink to order. I'm paraphrasing here, but "you wouldn't expect to walk into a restaurant and find all of the ingredients on display before you, the waiter asking you to select what you'd like to eat for dinner."
The evening carried on in much that manner, the ebb and flow of conversation moving from cocktails and drinking stories to the ability to order liquor and wine over the internet to Loki's delight in creating chaos. Sarah made, as she put it, an apple cider ginger booze punch and later whipped up a batch of cucumber martinis, many of the ingredients coming from her own garden. You can nab the recipe for the cucumber martini pictured above on Sarah's blog.
The book itself should come with the warning that you may suddenly find yourself with Evernote open, gleefully adding "Clear Creek Distillery", "cassis" and "thick, rich, French liqueur, made from the fruit of the black currant bush, turns an ordinary glass of dry white wine, sparkling wine, or hard cider into something wonderful" to a list of things to hunt for.