The Professors Sip to Labor Day!

Photo by Emma Criswell
Photo by Emma Criswell

At press time in Brooklyn, the forecast is for 92 degrees Fahrenheit. Still awfully warm for this time of year, but the calendar is telling us summer is officially reaching its end. In the U.S. we have one final long holiday weekend to sip in the bright, glowing light before the days begin to shrink and cower from the cool air. It gives us a final opportunity to relax with friends and family over a few drinks.

What do people who write about drinking like to imbibe in their off hours? Here they are to tell ya!

Kevin Gibson: On Labor Day, what could be more American than drinking something called American Pale Ale? No, I'm not talking about the IPAs that are so popular these days; I'm talking about the APA, the IPA's more-balanced cousin. And one of my current favorites is what will grace my glass this weekend: Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale. Brimming with Cascade hops, this beer is a brilliantly bittered and yet oh-so-drinkable version of the style. At 5.0 percent ABV, you can have a few without falling off your lawn chair, and at a moderate 40 IBU, you can enjoy the hops and still be able to taste your cheeseburger. God bless America.

photo by Adam Sonnett
photo by Adam Sonnett

Emma Criswell: On Labor Day weekend I will be sipping wines that lend toward fall temperatures and ease me out of summer - namely Fog Monster Chenin Blanc, and Vini Rabasco Vino Rosso Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. This past weekend, I traveled to Boston and learned how to shuck Blue Point oysters, which paired surprisingly well with chilled Vini Rabasco Montepulciano. The wine is almost nothing but purple fruit on the palate, and the grippy tannins play deliciously with the creaminess of oysters. Where Vini Rabasco is a food wine, Fog Monster is a standalone sipper. Unfined and unfiltered, this Chenin Blanc is creamy, warm, and dominated by toasted hazelnuts. It tastes just as lovely warm as it does with a slight chill, and will be an excellent, high end porch wine for the long weekend. Now I have to find a porch…

Brian Petro: Over the Labor Day weekend, I am going to continue my attempt to drink my weight in Oktoberfest beers. I have made it through quite a bit of my home state of Ohio, including Rhinegeist's Franz, North High Brewing, The Brew Kettle and Great Lakes Brewing Company's Oktoberfests. I have thrown a few native German ones in for good measure (Ayinger's Oktober Fest-Martzen is exceptional).

I will also be drinking whichever cocktails I have made for my 100 Days of Cocktails project. Looking at Old Fashioneds and other classic cocktails to kick it all off.

Sara Havens: The thing I love most about Monday holidays is the opportunity to day drink on Sunday without guilt — since you can sleep in the next day, if your day drinking spills into the evening, you won't have to start the week hiding a hangover.

Sara Havens with "Big Girl" Mimosa!
Sara Havens with "Big Girl" Mimosa!

Sundays are ideal for mimosas and Bloody Marys, and it's a good thing Louisville has the Big Bar, which offers both for $1.99 all day long. Let the friendly bartenders know how you like it — Loaded with olives? Light on the OJ? — and they'll make sure you never see the bottom of your glass.

This weekend, I'll also be scouring the city for the latest pumpkin beer releases. I know Schlafly has released their Pumpkin Ale, but there's another seasonal release we look forward to in Kentucky: the Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale by Lexington's Alltech Brewing & Distilling Co. The bourbon barrel-aged ale is brewed with locally grown pumpkins, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, and the combination of those ingredients makes for a refreshing, crisp finish.

Sara Gorelick: Over Labor Day I'll definitely be watching my diet (1 month til the wedding!) so I'll be drinking light. Refreshing cocktails with more soda water than booze this time around. However, when I do indulge it will be white wines straight from the fridge, such as Trinity Hill Sauvignon Blanc, to go with all that grilled food, and if I feel like splurging I'll treat myself to a Bramble variation with extra fruit.

Bramble On (by Amanda Schuster)

Muddle the blackberries with the gin, syrup and lemon juice in a shaking tin. Shake with ice until well chilled. Double strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Drizzle the liqueur over top. Garnish with a blackberry and lemon wedge if desired.

photo by Amanda Schuster
photo by Amanda Schuster

Amanda Schuster: I’m still somewhat traumatized from the relentlessly frigid winter we suffered through, so I really can’t be too upset at unseasonably high temperatures stretching out our well earned summer a bit longer. One of the best ways to keep it going, especially with guests, is to pair fresh orchard peaches, berries and plums with Grand Marnier Peach Raspberry Liqueur, combined with sparkling wine, gin and tonic or even a good ale for a bright shandy twist. I’m also elated that after years of waiting, NY Distilling Company has finally released its Ragtime Rye. No micro barrels, no rapid aging sleight of hand,

Ragtime was aged in adult sized casks into a proper, smooth, mature whiskey. Likely while watching U.S. Open Tennis, this will be enjoyed with a big rock or in something boozy and stirred if I decide to get fancy. Even though I’m a whiskey gal at heart, I’ve been on a big gin kick, and will keep on kicking past Labor Day with new favorites Oryza botanically forward gin from DP Distillers in Louisiana and a lot of new stuff from the U.K.  - Brockman’s (which has a unique berry fruit flavor profile), Tanqueray Bloomsbury juniper forward variation and Portobello Road London Dry. All that’s required for leisure sipping is a splash of good tonic, a squeeze of citrus and perhaps some Vermouth. Serenity achieved! 

Lest we forget that Labor Day on the first Monday of September was instituted as a way to reward American workers for their efforts throughout the year. These days, there is an increased number of people in the service industry who will have to work on Monday while the rest of us get to kick back. As always, be kind, patient and tip well.

Cheers!