The Professors' Sips For Independence Day

photo by sj liew
photo by sj liew

2016 is an interesting year to be celebrating America’s independence. So much has happened over the past few months, mixed with extreme highs and most dismaying lows. And when is this election going to be over already? There’s certainly much to discuss this weekend, so we might as well have the proper libations while we discourse over the ways of the world, or perhaps unplug and give it a rest for a couple of days. As always, We the Alcohol Professor People have been conducting important field research to make it easier to decide what to imbibe no matter how you spend it. So here’s to life, liberty and the pursuit of drinking well!

Sara Havens loves her some W.L. Weller bourbon!
Sara Havens loves her some W.L. Weller bourbon!

Maggie Kimberl: There's nothing more fundamentally American than bourbon. It's the ONLY spirit that Congress has declared "A Distinctive Product of the United States" and it cannot be made anywhere else as of that declaration. Bourbon was used as currency on the frontier when hard currency was still hard to come by and it was used as medication before there were major advances in medicine that brought us things like anesthesia and antibiotics. Bourbon's very existence is intertwined with much of our history and culture - you probably didn’t even realize the phrase "brand name" came from distiller names branded on the top of a bourbon barrel! If you want to do right by the good ole U.S.A. this year, make sure you've got bourbon in your glass.

New to the world of bourbon? Here’s Maggie’s Beginner’s Guide.

What's in your Declaration of Independence collins glass this holiday? Photo by Amanda Schuster
What's in your Declaration of Independence collins glass this holiday? Photo by Amanda Schuster

Sara Havensis another Kentucky native and she agrees with Maggie’s sentiment: There's nothing more American than bourbon, baseball and apple pie. So this Fourth of July weekend, I'll be partaking in numerous sips of some of my favorites — W.L. Weller 12, the new Four Roses Elliott's Select, Old Forester Signature, and Knob Creek 2001 — as I neither watch baseball nor eat a bite of apple pie. My grandma would often say, “Fruit does not belong in dessert, it belongs in salads. And I don't eat salads.”

Jake Emen: As America celebrates its birthday, let's join in on another American birthday celebration -- the 10th anniversary of Aviation Gin. One of the first standout American craft gins is going strong a decade later, and it's the perfect choice for D.C.'s favorite summertime libation, the Gin Rickey. Once the fireworks are set to unleash though, let's remember that we sort of owe something to the French for that whole "winning the

Revolution thing". With that in mind, how about another wonderful American+French collaboration, a French 75 with Aviation Gin?

Tim Miner has a great French 75 recipe you can find with some of our other warm weather favorites here.

Brian Petro grows fresh herbs for summer cocktails
Brian Petro grows fresh herbs for summer cocktails

Kevin Gibson: [Editor’s note: While not the sort of drink we usually recommend, guilty pleasure alert!] What could be more American than a Margarita? Wait, let me start again: I recently went on a joint family vacation with one of my oldest friends, a fellow named Greg, and his drink of choice for the trip was what he referred to as a “Margarita.” However, it was just this side of a traditional Margarita -- let's call it a Do-It-Yourself Beach Margarita. Beacharita? Whatever you want to call it, the good news is that while it wasn't exactly a traditional preparation, it was crisp and quaffable and tasty, as well as easy to make. The ingredients? Equal parts good silver tequila (2014 NY International Spirits Competition bronze medal winner El Tesoro Platinum would work beautifully here), Corona, frozen limeade, and Fresca (yes, Fresca). Seriously, you just mix it up in a bowl or a pitcher or a bathtub, stir, and pour it over ice. Salt on the rim is, of course, optional. And be prepared, because this stuff will blow your head off if you aren't careful. Cheers!

Keith Allison: I'll be drinking Lost Spirits Distillery Cuban Inspired rum with the meanest, spiciest, most over the top ginger beer the local bodega can sell me. I mean, rum was the spirit that built America. Some even say rum was the impetus for the American Revolution (taxes and all, you know). If I'm feeling particularly sinister, I might mix up a Stone Fence -- rum and cider -- and toast Ethan Allen. And by might, I mean, I will.

Brian Petro: This weekend it is going to be the simple pleasures for the Fourth of July. I am going to work on finding more Trotwood Lager by Warped Wing Brewing Company to add to my beer collection, because summer is the right time for crisp lagers and this one is lovely and local. There could also be a batch of fresh lemonade being made for Shandies and other general sipping purposes. My herb garden is starting to get out of control, so there some basil or rosemary could find its way to the mix. That is just encouragement for the gin to come out, but I will resist in honor of the holiday. Maybe rum will make an appearance instead.

Phil Galewitz: I’m a dark beer guy, but living in the South Florida heat and humidity much of the time, I often need something lighter particularly when drinking in afternoon with friends. And when I have the choice, I always go for a locally made craft beer. So my beer of choice this July 4th weekend has to be the Watermelon Saison by Twisted Trunk Brewing. The Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. brewery has had this on tap since it opened in February 2015 and it’s been my favorite ever since. The 4.5% ABV beer is light on the alcohol but heavy on taste with a flavor that’s just right amount of sweet, citrus and wheat. It pours slightly hazy with an apricot color and little bit of creamy head. Now, all they need to do is make it in cans or bottles so I can take to the beach!

Twisted Trunk beer poured for Phil Galewitz
Twisted Trunk beer poured for Phil Galewitz

Adam Levy: Since I knew I was going to be in Melbourne for July 4th running the Melbourne International Wine Competition and Melbourne International Spirits Competition, I knew to come prepared since bourbon and rye is scarce in this part of the world. So in the big bag I packed Basil Hayden bourbon and Bulleit Rye and because I want to support our friends in West Virginia who got slammed with floods, I also brought Smooth Ambler Old Scout for my friends in Melbourne.

Amanda Schuster: This is the time of year the farmer’s market bounty is at its peak, and I can also pluck herbs from my parents’ patio potted garden for cocktails (served in their bicentennial commemorative Declaration of Independence collins glasses!). I love the idea of adding muddled berries to a Negroni variation, and if you want to keep it completely patriotic top to bottom, use domestic aperitivo like Leopold Brothers, Alessi red vermouth from Tempus Fugit along with your favorite base spirit - gin, rum, whiskey or brandy. I’m terrible at math, however it's not hard to calculate that rosé + family’s BBQ rib recipe = a table of smiles. New York’s own 2015 Wölffer Estate Summer in a Bottle Rosé (silver medal, 2016 NY International Wine Competition) is one of the most aptly named wines ever (well, maybe with the exception of Mad Dog), made from 57% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 12% Chardonnay, and 11% Gewürztraminer. It basically tastes like popping just-picked, sweet-tart, sun-ripened fruit while watching a sunset sizzle into the horizon. For the beer drinkers, 

Happy birthday, America! Cheers!