New 'Whiskey' book explores the allure of the beloved spirit

Whiskey is no longer considered an old man’s drink. In fact, everyone wants to drink it now, whether it’s the innovative blends coming out of Japan or a good stiff bourbon from Kentucky or another U.S. state.

Author Michael Dietsch, whose book about shrubs I wrote about last year, is back with a new boozy tome called "Whiskey: A Spirited Story with 75 Classic & Original Cocktails" (The Countryman Press, $24.95) — an exploration of the drink that attempts to find out why it's suddenly so popular.

He infuses his guide with history, distilling techniques and definitions, and those 75 recipes to help make you as much of an expert on the dark aged spirit as he has become.

“If you’re new to whiskey, and you have no idea what separates a Scotch whiskey from an Irish, or a Canadian from a bourbon, the simple truth is there’s not as much a difference as you might think,” he writes in the first chapter. “Think of the world’s great whiskeys as cousins on a family tree. For all their differences, they’re very much related. And once you understand the subtleties of one whiskey, you can learn the nuances of them all.”

Start by making these two recipes featuring rye and bourbon — and then grab yourself a copy of Dietsch’s book.

Lion’s Tail

2 oz. bourbon

3/4 oz. allspice dram

1/2 oz. lime juice

1/2 tbsp. simple syrup

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Add all ingredients to an ice-filled shaker. Shake for 20 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

— Adapted from Michael Dietsch’s “Whiskey”

Morning Glory

1 oz. cognac

1 oz. rye whiskey

1/4 tsp. simple syrup

2 dashes Cointreau

2 dashes Angostura bitters

1 dash absinthe

2 oz. soda water

1/2 tsp. sugar

In a mixing glass two-thirds full of ice, stir cognac, rye whiskey, simple syrup, Cointreau bitters and absinthe. Add soda water.

Strain into a chilled highball glass. Gently stir the sugar into the drink, which will cause the drink to foam up an form a head.

— Adapted from Michael Dietsch’s “Whiskey”