The Drunken BotanistEvery great drink starts with a plant. Sake began with a grain of rice. Scotch emerged from barley. Gin was born from a conifer shrub when medieval physicians boiled juniper berries with wine to treat stomach pain. The Drunken Botanist uncovers the enlightening botanical history and the fascinating science and chemistry of over 150 plants, flowers, trees, and fruits (and even a few fungi).
Some of the most extraordinary and obscure plants have been fermented and distilled, and they each represent a unique cultural contribution to our global drinking traditions and our history. Molasses was an essential ingredient in American independence: when the British forced the colonies to buy British rather than French molasses for their New World rum-making, the settlers’ outrage kindled the American Revolution. Captain James Cook harvested the young, green tips of spruce trees to make a vitamin C–rich beer that cured his crew of scurvy—a recipe that Jane Austen enjoyed so much that she used it as a plot point in Emma. And the South American angostura tree, employed by explorer Alexander von Humboldt to treat fever, was at the center of a thirty-year international court battle over the trademarking of cocktail bitters.
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