Monday, March 30, 2015

The Drunken Botanist

One of my favorite parts of the day is listening to books in the car on the way to work. I just recently finished reading an incredibly well researched book by Amy Stewart. For all you botany nerds, for anyone who enjoys the craft of cocktails, and for those of you who enjoy the history of how we use plants - well this book is for you.  Written by New York Times best-selling author Amy Stewart, this book is about the botanical origins of the things we drink - alcoholic things we drink. First, she goes into great detail about which plants have been cultivated, for what drinks and by whom. In part two, she talks about how these ingredients are combined with other botanical flavorings and this is where it really got interesting. Herbs and spices like licorice, gentian, juniper and wormwood, and fruits such as citrus, figs, currants add their flavor so so many cordials and liqueurs. Trees like Angostura, Birch and Sugar Maple and nuts like the almond, hazelnut and walnut all add subtle flavors to the things we drink. Learning about all the small family cordial makers and craft distilleries that often have been making the liqueurs for generations was fascinating.

Caution though, this book may lead to this.....

After listening to this all week, I had to find something interesting to drink on Saturday in our local Bow Street Market. Something rare maybe, hand crafted, and wild. I knew I like herbal tasting gins. Then I saw this on the shelf! The Botanist! How could I resist!? A wild foraged gin made on the island of Islay (pronounced I-You-Wah in Gaelic!?) on the Inner Hebrides of Scotland! Having been to that part of the world when I was 20, I imagined (and waxed nostalgic for) island people who speak Scottish Gaelic, roaming the windy moors to gather the wild herbs on the cliffs, the caw of seagull rookeries below, the lonely lakes where wild brown trout live....this is before I even had any!
Such a beautifully made product, needed to be accompanied by a equally hand crafted tonic and so I picked up some Fever-Tree Premium Indian Tonic Water with real quinine and ginger. Less sweet than a regular tonic, these pure ingredients put the finishing touch to a Saturday night. Special indeed.

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