Popular Culture Review Vol. 24, No. 2, Summer 2013 - Page 135

BOOK REVIEWS 131 The Drunken Botanist—Plants That Create the World’s Great Drinks A m y Stew art A lgon q u in B o o k s, 2 0 1 3 Amy Stewart’s The Drunken Botanist provides a botanist’s perspective on the sources, advent, modern practices, and recipes o f the world’s most populär alcoholic drinks. Other books Stewart has penned include, Wicked Plants and Wicked Bugs. In The Drunken Botanist, she proceeds, “in an orderly fashion through the alphabet,” discussing fermentation and distilling, infusers, mixers and gamishes. She not only lists the plant and its fermentation process, but also its history, and how other organisms such as storage, bugs, and bacteria participate. Finally, she lists terminology, recipes, and in some cases, how to grow the plant on your own. Each section examines the plant, which is the study o f botany, and also a host o f other scientific disciplines that reflect the complexity o f creating alcoholic beverages from plants. Examples in the fermentation and distilling section include a revolutionary way to date when certain drinks were first consumed by humans. The Agave section includes a discussion on botanist, Eric Callen who first used human feces to date human consumption which determined that maguey, a beer made from Agave, has been consumed by South Americans for at least 2,000 years. The discussion also includes mescaline and its properties, shamanic and otherwise. We leam that by law, 100% Blue Agave is tequila made in the United States and that putting worms in tequila bottles is a sales device making such products substandard. In the section on grapes, Stewart uses a multidisciplinary approach to explain wine making, mentioning that fermentation o f grapes to wine began about the time that pottery was invented and that yeast from oak trees was first domesticated to make wine. She further explains the immense importance o f the properties o f oak barreis in the production o f wine, brandy, and whiskey, bringing chemistry into the conversation We leam that apples first appeared after the ice age. Their genetics are so diverse that it is impossible to get two apple trees with the