How to Grow A Cocktail

March, 2013                                                                                        Modern Farmer

What do you see when you walk into a liquor store? If you’re nature writer Amy Stewart, you see “the world’s most exotic botanical garden, the sort of strange and overgrown conservatory we only encounter in our dreams.” Indeed, without plants we wouldn’t have the martini. Or prosecco. Or single-malt scotch. Almost every element that goes into a great drink—from the fermented grains and grapes, to the herbs and fruits that flavor them, to the celery stalk in your glass—is a denizen of the plant world. Stewart’s latest book, The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World’s Great Drinks, tells the story of over 150 of these intoxicating flora and includes loads of tips for bartenders, gardeners and farmers on the art of alcohol.

 What are some weird plants that can show up in an alcoholic beverage?
You name it. If it’s a fruit or an herb, if it’s edible, someone somewhere has dropped it into some alcohol and made booze out of it. A lot of these plants go back to medieval medicine. Capillaire syrup was originally a medicinal thing made from maidenhair fern that was supposed to treat jaundice. But it became sweet botanical syrup that ended up as a cocktail ingredient. No one makes maidenhair syrup anymore. But you could. And I have.

What’s it used for?
Mostly old punch recipes like Jerry Thomas’ Regent Punch, which is one of those strange drinks that have green tea, Champagne and all kinds of crazy things.  (More)


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