Q: What was the most interesting thing you discovered?
A: There are a lot of plants that have been turned into alcohol that you never think about. Like sorghum, a grain. In Africa, they use it to brew homemade beer. In China, they use it to make a white-lightning-like spirit. A guy in Indiana is making a nice rum-like spirit using sorghum molasses from Amish farms down the road. And sorghum is gluten-free.
Q: What’s your favorite spirit or cocktail?
A: I like a Manhattan. It’s a lovely drink. I have been drinking Lillet, a French wine blended with citrus, herbs and spices, a little more boozy than regular wine. It’s nice mixed with other things. I’ll have that with dinner.
Q: What were you drinking the last time you were a drunken botanist?
A: I don’t know. I’m on the road right now. I tend to be very sober when I travel. It was probably something great, like an Old Fashioned.
Q: What’s the best plant-based drink for a hangover?
A: Hmmm. Probably coffee. Or water with a little lemon juice. It’s better not to drink too much, but if you do, you just have to give your liver a rest, let it do its work. There’s nothing for a hangover but time.
Q: Aside from the drink recipes, what do you want readers to take away from your book?
A: To understand that everything that gets made into alcohol starts with a plant. They’re all botanical. That’s the point. Except for cheap synthetic stuff that no one should be drinking.
Q: Did you find any exceptions to that rule?
A: In Mongolia, they drink fermented mare’s milk. You make do with what you’ve got.