22 November 2014

Weekend Cooking: Bourbon by Dane Huckelbridge

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Bourbon by Dane HuckelbridgeAlthough many people think of apple pie, hot dogs, and baseball as being particularly American, one of the true gems of our nation is the invention of bourbon, which is based on a New World native plant: corn. Corn whiskey has been around since the first colonists and has grown from family stills to a mega-industry and now full circle back to craft distilleries over the last few hundred years.

In Bourbon, Dane Huckelbridge tells the story of the development of bourbon from the corn beers of the Aztecs to the finest sipping whiskeys of the twenty-first century. His fun, entertaining, and casual style masks a well-researched study of the history of American whiskey and the part it played in our society. The books is easy to read because Huckelbridge quotes diaries, letters, and historical documents and breaks up the text with fabulous old photographs and period advertisements.

I enjoyed this short history of the quintessential American drink and learned quite a bit about bourbon and its role in American history. Here are few things I discovered:
  • George Washington had multiple whiskey stills; not surprising considering that the farm manager of Mount Vernon was a Scotsman.
  • Moonshiners made a fortune selling whiskey to soldiers during the Civil War; a canteen full of bourbon cost at least $10.
  • Many of the brands of bourbon we drink today have roots more than 150 years deep.
  • Most of the whiskey sold in the Wild West saloons was bourbon, although not all of it was the good stuff from Kentucky.
  • Within an hour of the passing of the Volstead Act, a "medicinal whiskey" supplier had been robbed of $100,000 worth of bourbon.
  • Bourbon distilleries were used to produce industrial alcohol during World War II.
Bourbon is a quick read that takes you through the history of America as seen through the rise and fall and rise again of an all-American drink. As I mentioned, Dane Huckelbridge's style is far from academic, and he includes a number of stories about famous Americans and their love of corn whiskey. This isn't what you learned in high school American history!

Thanks to Huckelbridge, I think I'm going to have to take a drive along the Bourbon Trail, tasting my way through Kentucky. I wonder if I can talk Mr. BFR into being the designated driver.

Published by HarperCollins / William Morrow, 2014
ISBN-13: 9780062241399
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


rhapsodyinbooks 11/22/14, 6:37 AM  

Interesting! I have the same response to bourbon as I do to rum: add butter, sugar, and pecans, and I'm all over it! :--)

Karen 11/22/14, 7:51 AM  

I am not a bourbon drinker, but my husband is! Maybe he would like this....

Les 11/22/14, 8:59 AM  

Ah! The perfect gift for my bourbon-loving husband. Actually, it's my favorite liquor, too. Manhattans and Whiskey Sours have become my favorite drinks over the past decade or so. We hope to take a drive along the Bourbon Trail someday, too. Cheers!

Jackie McGuinness 11/22/14, 9:06 AM  

I like bourbon. This sounds like a good read.

Tanya @ Moms Small Victories 11/22/14, 9:26 AM  

Sharing my 8 must have tools in the kitchen and my menu plan from last week. Thanks for hosting. A Bourbon Trail drive sounds fun.

Unknown 11/22/14, 9:32 AM  

I saw signs for the Bourbon Trail when I was on vacation a few years ago. I'll have to make sure I stop the next time I'm in the area. I had no idea bourbon was a truly American spirit.

Unknown 11/22/14, 10:47 AM  

Oh that book sounds pretty cool. I love food and drink histories - they can be quite fascinating.

Anonymous,  11/22/14, 11:40 AM  

Sounds interesting! The histories and evolutions of food are always fascinating.

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! 11/22/14, 11:40 AM  

We have several books explaining the history of foods or beverages, they are always a great read. Interestingly we had something new last night a Negroni, wow so flavorful. Thanks for hosting!

Carole 11/22/14, 2:16 PM  

I'm not a bourbon girl - brandy & ginger beer is my tipple if I drink spirits at all. Cheers from Carole's Chatter!

Katherine P 11/22/14, 4:28 PM  

The Bourbon Trail sounds fascinating! I really don't know much about it but I'm definitely willing to learn! I'll have to look for this book. Thanks for sharing!

Nan 11/22/14, 5:19 PM  

This book sounds great! In Stephen Fry in America, Fry visits Kentucky and talks about bourbon.

bermudaonion 11/22/14, 8:26 PM  

This sounds fascinating!

Amelia 11/25/14, 2:30 PM  

Not a bourbon fan, but it sounds really interesting, I know a few people who would be interested.

ChaosIsAFriendOfMine 11/26/14, 12:28 AM  

I've been binge watching Boardwalk Empire which basically revolves around bourbon. It would be interesting to read this book and find out how much on that show is realistic.

Vicki 11/26/14, 2:19 PM  

A book about the history of Bourbon sounds fascinating!!

jilllora 11/26/14, 8:28 PM  

I've never tried bourbon, but I have visited George Washington's distillery. Well, the recreated version. It was quite interesting, although the whiskey was selling for over $100. And no free samples!

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