Whether you are an herbalist, aromatherapist, kitchen witch, magician or wannabe epicurean, Blackthorn’s Botanical Brews has a drink for everyone who takes both a practical and magical interest in potions, herbals teas and alcoholic spirits. This hard cover tome remind us that potions were some of the original recipes. Primary ingredients are listed with magical correspondences, scientific names, information on origin, part of the plant used, type of scent, herbal lore and uses and every day magical applications. This is practical magic, the kind you find in folklore practices or old herbals. For people who are keen to do a little magic in the kitchen, you will want Blackthorn’s Botanical Brewsas a reference. Those who take no interest in magic are likely to find the magical focus overwhelming even if they enjoy the drink recipes.

With both cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages, there is a drink suitable for any occasion. Blackthorn uses fewer alcoholic ingredients than you would find in a craft cocktail recipe book and more herbs. She is an expert on everything tea.  From Earl Grey tea infused gin to Sazerac, kombucha to soda, syrups and infused vinegars and what to do with leftovers, you are likely to find something you don’t know or haven’t tried.

The level of skill required of the reader is minimal. For the newbie, the introductory section on the hows and whys of magic will set the stage and for those who have never made a drink the bartending tools intro will help. The drinks can be as simple as mixing two ingredients or as complex as a 10-ingredient cocktail. Blackthorn’s intent is to make you more aware of the magical possibilities when you make any kind of beverage. What is unusual in her Molotov Cocktail recipe isn’t the ingredients but the parenthetical commentary on the protection of tomato juice, banishing quality of vodka, etc.

My only critique of this book is that the large amount of information makes it harder to find the beginnings of recipes. It would have been easier for the reader if the layout had allowed the recipe to stand alone on one page. Also, why aren’t there pictures? The book is well-researched, the recipe instructions are simple and the resulting drinks will impress anyone lucky enough to share it with you.

I highly recommend this for people who are equally as passionate about making tinctures, teas and cocktails as they are about making magic a part of everyday life.

~review by Larissa Carlson
Author: Amy Blackthorn
Publisher: Weiser Books, 2020
pp. 251, $18.95