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Literary Libations

I recently read Amy Stewart’s The Drunken Botanist, and after reading her introduction, or aperitif as the author cleverly calls it, I immediately knew that her book would be the inspiration for this blog post. In The Drunken Botanist, Stewart notes that “every great drink starts with a plant” and provides the reader with great insight into the world of boozy botanicals.

During the dog days of Oklahoma summer I can’t think of anything more relaxing than sitting outside on an evening with a good breeze, and sipping on a garden-inspired, homemade, herbaceous cocktail. My partner and I spend countless hours tending to our plants and yard over the summer and while working in nature is often reward in and of itself, it’s a beautiful thing to reap the rewards that Mother Nature provides us. There’s something so simply beautiful about harvesting your homegrown goods and using them to create delicious treats to be shared with your loved ones.

So if you are bonkers about botany (like me) and like to kick back with an adult beverage on a hot, summer day (also like me) then look no further than your local library and your summer garden. The following book selections are guaranteed to guide and inspire your next delicious libation.


Edible Cocktails: From Garden to Glass—Seasonal Cocktails with a Fresh Twist by Natalie Bovis-Nelsen

Looking for a great lavender-rosemary syrup recipe to flavor your homemade cocktail or curious about how to infuse your new bottle of vodka with rose hips? You won’t want to miss out on this delicious guide to seasonally inspired mixed drinks. From cobblers to cocktails, fizzes to flips, and sours to swizzles, this book delivers a delicious punch with information that is sure to address all of your beverage needs.

The New Cocktail Hour: The Essential Guide to Hand-Crafted Drinks by Andre Darlington

This new release is one of my current favorites and it is destined to become one of yours too. This delightful guide includes recipes for seasonal cocktails, syrups, cordials, ginger beer, shrubs, bitters, tonic, and more. Pinch off some of your garden basil to freshen up a homemade Gin Basil Smash, stir in some of your homegrown strawberries to The Last Tango in Modena, and garnish your Bee’s Knees with a few sprigs of fresh lavender. No matter the drink, you can’t go wrong with any of these cleverly concocted recipes. Bottoms up!

Quench: Handcrafted Beverages to Satisfy Every Taste & Occasion by Ashley English

Quench features over 100 recipes for natural sodas, wines, infused liquors, liqueurs, bitters, kombucha, and more. Many recipes call for herbs and produce that gardeners can source straight from their own backyard or their local farmers’ market. Readers interested in creating homemade, seasonal bitters will want to get started on a batch of Triple Berry Bitters for their summer cocktails and then make note to revisit the Pear Bitters recipe this fall, the Citrus Bitters recipe this winter, and the Rhubarb Bitters recipe this spring. This beautifully photographed book is handcrafted perfection.

The Cocktail Hour Garden: Creating Evening Landscapes for Relaxation and Entertaining by C. L. Fornari

For those looking for more landscape than liqueur inspiration this summer, look no further than C.L. Fornari’s latest release, The Cocktail Hour Garden. Chapter by chapter, Fornari guides her readers through the process of creating their very own cocktail hour garden by focusing on elements such as fragrance and illumination. While delicious cocktail recipes are noted throughout, this book will appeal to all gardeners no matter their preference for tea over tequila or cognac over coffee. This quaint little gem is perfect in every way and is at the top of my favorite books of 2016 list.

Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits: Innovative Flavor Combinations, Plus Homemade Versions of Kahlua, Cointreau & Other Popular Liqueurs by Andrew Schloss

The recipes in this handy guide include fruit liqueurs, vegetable liqueurs, floral liqueurs, creamy liqueurs, and herb & spice liqueurs. While it does feature a section on infused spirits, homemade liqueurs are clearly the stars of the show. Gardeners will find a plethora of recipes to feature their homegrown goods.

The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create The World’s Great Drinks by Amy Stewart

For those readers looking to pair their cocktail recipes with botanical history, look no further than this entertaining treat. Stewart divides her book into three enjoyable and informative sections. The first section explores the history behind the plants that are most commonly transformed into alcohol. In the second section of her book, Stewart examines the herbs, spices, fruits, nuts, bark, roots and flowers that are used to infuse alcohol. For example, did you know that common Gin ingredients include juniper berry, coriander, fennel, ginger, lavender, citrus peel, and cardamom? Neither did I. No wonder it is so delicious. In her third and final section of The Drunken Botanist, Stewart digs into the art of botanical mixology. Stewart provides the reader with information on botanic mixers and garnishes that can be used in the final stages of cocktail preparation, and also provides growing notes for fruits and vegetables that impart delicious flavor to your homemade craft cocktails. Stewart’s writing style is engaging, accessible, and downright fun. This is not a book to be missed.

The Home Distilling & Infusing Handbook: Make Your Own Whiskey & Bourbon Blends, Infused Spirits, Cordials & Liqueurs by Matt Teacher

This colorful and simple handbook provides readers will all of the information they need to create their own homemade infusions. From safety tips to recipes to resources & supplies, this basic guide has you covered. If you’ve ever wondered how to make your own Blueberry Bourbon, Gummy Bear Vodka with Drunken Gummies, Yellow Beet Gin, Lemon Verbena Cantaloupe Vodka, or Walnut Cognac, then this book is for you.


Jessica Gonzalez

Jessica Gonzalez's picture

Jessica is a Librarian at the Downtown Library. Her passions include historic home remodeling, gardening, travel, cooking, and spending time with her husband and their adorable animals, Stella and François.

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