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Take a tour through the history of bourbon

Published: Tuesday, Apr. 1, 2014 - 11:05 am

Let’s raise a glass to Dan Huckelbridge for putting together the definitive history of bourbon, the penultimate American whiskey, in “Bourbon: A History of the American Spirit” (William Morrow, $25.99, 288 pages).

The corn-based spirit is so thoroughly American that Congress passed a 1964 resolution calling it a “distinctive product of the United States.” Given its history as Huckelbridge lays it out, that declaration isn’t surprising.

The author — who likes his bourbon straight up — tours us around the saloon, so to speak, beginning with whiskey-making colonists at Jamestown and segueing to George Washington (who had a “distilling operation on his estate), the Scots-Irish immigrants working stills “in the rugged oak forests of the Appalachian frontier,” into the Civil War and into the wild West (”Bartender, leave the bottle!”).

Bourbon continued its journey into the Roaring Twenties, through Prohibition and onto the international front after World War II. In more recent years, small batches of hand-crafted bourbon have given the booze a new cachet — and price tag.

Taking a cue from Huckelbrildge’s closing remark — “Who’s ready to go get a drink?” — fine bourbons and bourbon-based cocktails can be found locally at Shady Lady Saloon (1409 R St.), Red Rabbit Kitchen & Bar (2718 J St.) and the newly opened Fahrenheit 250 (7042 Folsom Blvd.).

Call The Bee’s Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128. Follow him on Twitter @apierleonisacbe.

Read more articles by Allen Pierleoni

About Appetizers

Chris Macias has served as The Sacramento Bee's Food & Wine writer since 2008. His writing adventures have ranged from the kitchen at French Laundry to helping pick 10 tons of zinfandel grapes with migrant farm workers in Lodi. Chris also judges regularly at food, wine and cocktail competitions around Northern California. His profile of a former gangbanger-turned-pastry-chef was included in Da Capo's "Best Food Writing 2012."

Read his Wine Buzz columns here
(916) 321-1253
Twitter: @chris_macias

Allen Pierleoni writes about casual lunchtime restaurants in The Sacramento Bee's weekly "Counter Culture" column. He covers a broad range of topics, including food, travel, books and authors. In addition to writing the weekly column "Between the Lines," he oversees the Sacramento Bee Book Club, in which well-known authors give free presentations to the public.

Read his Counter Culture reviews here
(916) 321-1128
Twitter: @apierleonisacbe

Blair Anthony Robertson is The Sacramento Bee's food critic.

Read his restaurant reviews here
(916) 321-1099
Twitter: @Blarob

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