Book Reviews

Blotto Botany: A book after my own *hic* heart…

Amber Shehan April 25, 2019

When Blotto Botany arrived at my door, it was a beacon of light into the dark corner where I was hibernating. It wasn’t just the well-crafted recipes for herbal cordials, bitters, and elixirs that helped to lift my spirit and stir my soul, but the beautiful way in which it is delivered.

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To be honest, I am behind on many things in my life right now – this blog, a few bills, my gardening plans, bottling brews, and straining delicious cordials that have been sitting far too long. Part of it can be blamed on the baby and the pace of daily life, but more specifically, every single one of my booze-related projects has been neglected because of the year-long, constant brewing and testing of one-gallon brews for the recipes in Artisanal Small-Batch Brewing! While it was a delight to write about something that I love, it was also exhausting and for a while, I couldn’t stand to do anything related to alcohol. Every single bubbling jug was mocking me, and cordials have been living in jars, sitting and waiting for my attention.

Everything was a full stop until I got a chance to really look at this beauty of a book that I ordered and like the rest of my boozy hobbies, set aside to wait for my recovery. Just in time, this little bright bubble popped into my view and has renewed my sense of wonder and woo-woo in the boozy things I do!

Just look at it:


When Blotto Botany by Spencre L.R. McGowan (of Gingertooth & Twine) arrived at my door, it was a beacon of light that shone its way into the dark corner where I was hibernating. It wasn’t just the well-crafted recipes for herbal cordials, bitters, and elixirs that helped to lift my spirit and stir my soul, but the beautiful way in which it is delivered. Sometimes we need beauty and novelty to stir the pot, and this is exactly what the doctor ordered.

So, imagine if a really cool art ‘zine was run by an herbal witch who found a professional press to craft a masterpiece of a book. Now you have Blotto Botany! Each recipe in the first half of the book is handwritten and set on a riot of color and collage. The artwork and recipes are both heartfelt and cheerful and help to create a sense of wonder.

Blotto Botany is more than just a pretty face, though. It includes a handy Materia Medica and some basic tips on wildcrafting, magical herbalism, and herbal actions. The cordial recipes are sorted by season to make it easier for foragers and to set the mood for each cycle of the year. Most of the recipes and techniques explored herein are simple and rely on the folk method and intuition, and it is therefore accessible to new herbalists or mixologists. Even those who are old hats at this sort of thing have something to take away from Blotto Botany. The herbal combinations in the recipes offered new twists on old favorite cordial recipes, which has sparked in me some new interest in creating boozy beverages!

Click the jars to browse Pixie’s Pocket cordial recipes!

This book is perfect for a beginner herbalist or for someone who appreciates a well-stocked, DIY bar cabinet. The portion of Blotto Botany that addresses syrups and shrubs is simply divine and opens the door wide open for a new range of cocktail and mocktail experiences!

Oh, and it turns out that Spencre has just launched a class called Cordials, Shrubs, and Bitters. This online course offers video, downloads, and more! It is available internationally and it starts on April 28, 2019. Don’t miss out!

Amber Shehan

Hi! I'm Amber Pixie, and this is my site. Enjoy the recipes, information, posts, and please feel free to message me if you have questions!

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