The Drunken Botanist

TEXT by Holly LaPorte | PHOTOGRAPHS by Holly LaPorte


This week I'm pleased to share a guest post featuring a brand new Eco Read PGM pick, The Drunken Botanist, reviewed by Holly LaPorte! Thank you Holly! (Find links to Holly's blog down below.)

BEING AN AVID COLLECTOR OF COOKBOOKS, THERE ARE MANY TIMES WHERE I SHUN THE COCKTAIL BOOK.  I reserve my shelves in the kitchen (and other areas of the house) for the newest cookbook that I must have, but when I saw The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart come along, it really sparked my interest.    

As a novice gardener, sure, I want to learn more about the plants and herbs that I am (sometimes) attempting to grow.  This is really my second true year of having a vegetable and herb garden, and while I've mostly been successful in my gardening adventures, you can sometimes get overwhelmed with how great your success is!  Ask my family how much yellow squash we consumed last year…. the plant was so happy in my garden that I couldn't keep up with ways to cook it, bake it, pickle it….. give it away!  Even the groundhog that lives around the woodpile probably tired of the yellow squash too!  My point is, I'm always looking for new inspiration on how to use the produce I have growing in my own yard.  



The Drunken Botanist provides that inspiration as well as so much more!  Now, I am a person who reads cookbooks like novels…. from flap to flap, by my bedside table, in the kitchen, at the beach…. you get the picture.  You can certainly do that with this book, but I have found I pick it up, flip to a random page, and learn so much… whether it be about the history of sugar, global drinking traditions, the spelling of whisky or whiskey, or a field guide to cherry-based spirits… this book has so much to offer.  And the recipes… oh, the recipes!  There are cocktail recipes galore, a recipe for homemade grenadine, how to brine your own olives, and even one for refrigerator pickles.

Yes, this book excites me.  Maybe this book has sparked my inner "drunken botanist", because this summer I have whipped up more fun cocktails than ever before.  Most recently, I made a basil simple syrup from the "garden-infused simple syrup" recipe in the book on p. 324.  I've become obsessed.  I've used this syrup in many cocktails thus far (even as a sweetener for my iced tea), but my favorite being the recipe I provide below.  It's a tart refreshment with a little of my Southern heritage coming through with the bourbon.  It's meant to be enjoyed leisurely, perhaps sitting under a shade tree while reading the afternoon away with The Drunken Botanist in hand.  Cheers!


Cherry Tart Cocktail - Makes 2

Muddle around 15-20 (pitted) Rainier cherries.  Let the cherries sit in 2 oz. of bourbon (I used my favorite, Basil Hayden's Bourbon Whiskey) in a cocktail shaker.  Add ice, 3 ounces of the basil simple syrup, and 2 ounces of fresh-squeezed lemon juice.  Shake and pour over ice.  Garnish with fresh basil from the garden and extra cherries.


About Holly: A Mississippi girl transplanted to the suburbs of Philadelphia, who loves nature, culinary delights, and cowboy boots. She blogs at Turquoise Autumn, curates the Artisans’ Markets at her local Williams-Sonoma, and maintains their social media.  See here.  And her heart and volunteering efforts belong to Nest.  See here.