Labor Day in the United States seems especially hard earned this year. It’s been an official federal holiday since 1894, when President Grover Cleveland signed it into law after almost two decades of, well, labor, by unions and other workers’ alliances who fought to make an official national day off a reality. In some ways this year, it’s business as usual, this article notwithstanding. It’s one of the best weekends to score a good deal on a mattress, a car or a pair of jeans, not to mention, alcohol.
For those of us in moderate climates, we can take this weekend to relax. However, this week, a large portion of the U.S. was heavily battered by an unwelcome guest that took far too long to leave – Hurricane Harvey. Those in affected areas in Texas and the gulf will be spending all of the “holiday” and weeks to follow in recovery mode. The USBG has set up fundraising and volunteer initiatives to help those in the service industry, and other publications have also posted comprehensive lists of where to donate and volunteer. Pro tip: be sure to research any donation links first to ensure funds get to the right place.
This has been an exhausting year for so many of us. Whether it’s the amount of work we do or simply attempting to follow and react to current events, which seem to go through more outrageous changes in a single day than the entirety of a Madonna concert tour. Don’t know about you, but I’m beat! Here are the professors with their suggestions of what to sip while unplugging for a bit this Labor Day.
Francine Cohen: In the cocktail community it is hard to think of two people who have worked harder to open job opportunities, new career paths, and revenue streams than Tony Abou-Ganim and Dale DeGroff. Which is why I’ll be drinking their first ever collaboration cocktail “Alliance.” This simple spritz of Pisco (from Peru) Champagne (from France) and some strawberry-lychee puree is refreshing, easy to make (scale up or down) and celebratory on this early September day.
Nothing beats a Labor Day drink that brings countries together in a glass, colleagues together for a first-time collaboration, and friends and family together to enjoy each other’s company on a weekday. So, on Monday I will raise an Alliance for all; for the trade unions, for the bartenders, for their guests, for hardworking Americans and immigrants, for the north and the south, Republicans and Democrats, our neighbor Mexico which has come to the aid of those impacted by Hurricane Harvey, and our neighbor Canada, which has celebrated Labour Day in their own country since 1882. Also, of course, for our allies around the world. And for you.
In a mixing glass add Pisco, fresh lime juice, ginger syrup and strawberry-lychee puree. Shake with ice until well blended. Strain into an ice filled Collins glass and spritz with chilled champagne. Garnish with sliced strawberries and lime slices.
Maggie Kimberl: It’s the end of summer officially, but my lawn will keep growing in Kentucky well into October. After mowing the lawn it’s always nice to have something refreshing to drink, and my favorite for post-lawn mowing or even an end of summer cookout is a bourbon variation of the Dark and Stormy. For this one I’ve poured 1.5 ounces ofJim Beam Black (gold medal winner 2017 NYISC)) into aButchertown Soda Ginger Beer. It’s light and refreshing and there’s just something about the combination of that spicy ginger with the sweet bourbon that tastes like summer. Bonus points for pairing it with my new favorite lawn mowing cigar, the Umbagog byDunbarton Tobacco & Trust.
Phil Galewitz: It’s the end of summer barbecue and I’m bringing Bell’s Brewery Oberon to the party this weekend. This is far from the funky seasonal or boozy dark imperial stout that my friends and family have become used to me bringing over, usually eliciting mixed reviews. Instead, this is the craft beer I know for certain we’ll all enjoy — no matter if it’s early afternoon or after the sun goes down. With food or without, its an easy drinking beer but with an amazing smooth taste that even so called non-beer drinkers will like. No lime needed for this American wheat beer, as its modest citrusy flavor mixes with a clove-like aroma. The 5.8% ABV beer from one of Michigan’s best breweries pours with a light orange haziness and has a nice crisp finish that makes this the quintessential summertime ale. With just 187 calories and 16 carbohydrates and lack of any strong bitterness, it’s the tasty craft beer to drink when you want to have more than one without feeling full.
Sara Havens: Monday holidays are some of my favorites, because they make Sundays not so dreadful and sad. They’re also a great excuse to hit up that neighborhood bar or restaurant that touts bottomless Mimosa specials — because on these rare occasions, you can truly partake (responsibly, of course!) in the deal a lifetime without worrying about having a foggy head the next day. I usually walk up to Louisville’s Big Bar, where they offer bottomless specials on Mimosas and Bloody Marys for a cool $12 from 2-5 p.m. If your bartender is friendly, as most of them are at Big Bar, ask them to add a little pineapple juice along with the OJ in the Mimosa, and it helps cut down the acidity. I also have them make it in a pint glass with ice, because those dainty little glasses don’t last more than five minutes at my table. Cheers!
Brian Petro: Labor Day is a big time of the year around the Petro home, with multiple birthdays and plenty of Ohio travel. One of the places we usually stop at is the Cleveland Oktoberfest, since Paulaner brings all of the traditional German brews. It’s a good time to catch up on my Marzen intake! Other Ohio breweries show up as well, like Hopping Frog and Elevator Brewing to show off their fall beers and drop hints about what is coming in winter. I will also be stopping at Willoughby Brewing for their Peanut Butter Cup Porter, which they have year round but it starts to taste better as the weather gets cooler. To kick off the weekend, I am going to try to find a seat at The Century to keep working my way through their late summer menu. There is a Rye Tai there that speaks to me. (For more places to sip around Cleveland, here’s Brian’s guide.)
Kevin Gibson: I’ve had the good luck to plan a trip to Green Bay (football nerds do such things) the week before Labor Day. On my first day, I hit Hinterland Brewing next to legendary Lambeau Field and picked up a six-pack of Hinterland IPA to bring home with me. (Well, that’s assuming it isn’t depleted in my hotel room in the meantime.) It’s a malt-balanced American IPA dry-hopped with Simcoe, with lots of bright citrus notes and a nice, bitter finish. It also comes with 6.7 percent ABV, which is just enough to ensure a happy holiday.
Paul Senft: Labor Day weekend in Atlanta is always busy as Dragon Con, a huge Science Fiction/Fantasy convention brings friends to town from all over the country. Friday night, we will kick the weekend off by sharing dinner and Mai Tais with our friends at Trader Vic’s. Then Saturday and Sunday will be all about enjoying the festivities and fixing highball cocktails on the go for our friends, think Cuba Libres with Bacardí 8 (which won silver in the 2016 NYISC), and Gin Rickeys with Citadelle Reserve gin. Monday will be all about cooking out, relaxing in the pool, and trying out some new cocktails using Truly Spiked and Sparklingas mixers.
Tim Miner: The end of summer is fast approaching and that means it’s your last chance for easy drinking on a long weekend. Labor Day is a great reason for a BBQ. It is, however, not a great reason to spend your day in the kitchen missing out on the company of your friends who are enjoying themselves out in the yard. Let’s leave fancy and often over-thought cocktails to the pros behind bars. This weekend let’s take it easy. This is what I’ll be drinking.
The Michelada: this is one of those drinks that runs the risk of getting too fancy. Stop trying so hard. This is how I like ’em.
Grab your favorite, cheap can of beer (I like Modelo). Squeeze some lime juice over the top and around the rim of the can. Dunk the top of the can in some kosher salt. Dash some hot sauce on top of the can (I like Cholula but use your favorite or whichever one is close at hand). Crack open that can (use a church key to avoid getting hot sauce all over your hand) and shove a lime wedge into it. The hot sauce, salt and lime will mix with the beer in each sip. It’s that easy. Now, back to that hammock.
Amanda Schuster: This has been a full on working summer with no break for me, so I am taking the significance of this holiday weekend for all. It’s. Worth!!! Earlier in the summer, I really got into making this long lost gin cocktail called Abu Hamed, which is still in heavy rotation, or I’ll just sip unfussy versions of gin and tonics, particularly with flavorful gins that have been on my radar lately, such as the berry refreshing Brockman’s, crisp Caorunn from Scotland (gold medal, 2017 NYISC), Far North’s verdant rye-based Solveig or easy going Dillon’s Dry 7, (silver, 2017 NYISC). To add a little taste of harvest to usher in autumn, my favorite season, I might float a little Lejay Cassis (silver, 2017 NYISC) into the mix, or use Sipsmith Sloe Gin as the base. At the family barbecue, I might open up a festive bottle of Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore to get things started, and make sure there’s a sturdy, fruity red for the meal, as I fondly recall last year’s trip to Sicily with an elegant, yet crowd-pleasing Nero D’Avola from Stemmari. If only we could have those delicate, sweet and briny red shrimp fresh from the sea here in New York too.
Enjoy your day off, everyone! And please remember to be extra kind to those working to while you don’t have to.
Amanda Schuster is the Senior Editor in Chief of Alcohol Professor and the author of NEW YORK COCKTAILs available from Cider Mill Press. Certified sommelier, former retail spirits and wine buyer - she likes to think of herself as "bi-spiritual." Please don't ever offer her a Pickleback. Complete bio here.