Has it really been nearly six months since the last of our winter holiday gift guides? Here we are, finally, at the first official long weekend of the spring-summer season, and the Alcohol Professors are ready to relax with some delicious libations. Lest we forget, the memorial holiday exists to pay tribute to those who served in our military, and happens to coincide with Fleet Week in many cities. So apart from taking some bibulous advice from our faculty, if you happen to be in the company of an officer at a bar over the weekend, be sure to buy them a drink!
Sara Havens: What’s more American than a drink with bacon in it? I’ll be consuming a few Bloody Marys this holiday weekend to get my vegetable intake and get a jumpstart on the day (or help erase the mistakes of yesterday). They’re the ultimate hair-of-the-dog drink, and I say the more olives and garnishes, the better. I prefer mine spicy, thick and made with Purity vodka (which just this month won silver in the 2017 NY International Spirits Competition) . Or try a modified version by adding tequila or bourbon instead of vodka. (Editor’s note: For more history on the Bloody Mary, please read our article here.)
Paul Senft: This year my wife and I are planning (weather permitting) on spending the weekend relaxing by the pool with friends, grilling out, and enjoying some much needed downtime. I want to try a new rum from Decatur, Georgia called Independent Rum, created by the Independent Distilling company. They recommend using their rum in a French 75 variation as well as in a Hemingway Daiquiri; I think that will be a fun way to explore the product. We will probably whip up some traditional island rum punch and have some Kona beer on ice. As a veteran, Monday is always a day of reflection. I think about my family and friends that served who are no longer with us, as well as those who have fallen serving our country.
Adam Levy: My Memorial Day tradition is to make simply the most wonderful cocktail that my good friend, the bourbon historian Bernie Lubbers first ordered for me when I was at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival years ago: A good bourbon (usually Basil Hayden’s or Elijah Craig Small Batch), ginger ale and fresh lime. It has since become a favorite. Thank you, Bernie!
Phil Galewitz: IPAs are not typically my first choice when it comes to beers because I prefer to avoid any bitter taste. But I make a few notable exceptions, such as Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA and Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch Belgian Style IPA. For Memorial Day Weekend, I proudly tip my glass to another tasty IPA that has a perfect balance of hops and flavor — Freedom Isn’t Free from Heritage Brewing of Manassas, Va. The golden amber color has just the right amount of carbonation and hint of caramel sweetness. The 6.2% abv. beer is one of the flagships from this veteran-owned brewery that opened in 2014 and quickly gained a following in Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. Freedom Isn’t Free is the perfect drink to wash down some smoked beer nuts at Heritage’s new brewpub in Arlington, Va. Packaged in some patriotic-themed cans, it’s certainly going to be a hit at the barbecue this weekend. Plus the brewery donates 1% of every pint sold to charity. For more beer and BBQ pairings, please click here.
Kevin Gibson: When a beer tells you it’s all about summer, believe it. That’s what Samuel Adams Summer Ale is saying right up front, with its wheat base, hint of lemon and moderate alcohol levels (5.3 percent). This is is why I foresee myself drinking several of these clean, tasty brews this weekend, whether I’m paddling downstream or just piddling around the back yard. Cheers!
Wine and Refreshments to Go (or Stay)
In New York City, Spring 2017 has cyclically sputtered and started for weeks. Cooler than normal temps and cloudy skies are on tap for the majority of the weekend, but that’s not going to stop me from finally popping open some delicious rosé. I’m excited to try Kim Crawford Hawke’s Bay Rosé 2016 (and find out why it’s nicknamed ‘Pansy’ back in NZ), Defesa do Esporão 2015 (a Portuguese wine made from Aragonez and Syrah which should please my red wine drinking friends). I also plan to pop open Valdivieso Brut Rosé (a sparkling wine Chile made in the charmat method from cool climate 70% pinot noir and 30% chardonnay) to simply celebrate the fact we made it to the end of May and we’re still here.
If the weather holds, I’ll take some Bravazzi Hard Italian Soda (in blood orange, grapefruit and limonata) to Brooklyn Bridge Park to celebrate the 134th anniversary of the bridge’s glorious existence.
If it doesn’t, well then I’ll stay inside and watch Five Came Back about directors William Wyler, Frank Capra, George Stevens, John Ford and John Huston and how they bravely volunteered to film World War II in order to sway more definitive action to end it. For this, I’ll need something stronger, so to commemorate the many soldiers we lost fighting on French shores in that war, I’ll drink Cognac Pierre Ferrand Double Cask, aged in traditional French limousin casks and finished in ex-Banyuls wine barrels. It also seems fitting to sip Bache Gabrielsen American Oak (silver medal, 2017 NYISC), finished in ex-Tennesse Whiskey casks.
Maggie Kimberl: For Memorial Day I always like to highlight those in the spirits and cigar industries who are helping to support our troops and their families. This year Woodford Reserve will be engraving bottles for customers with the 101st Airborne logo and donating at least five dollars from each sale to The Screaming Eagle Foundation. The Screaming Eagle Foundation supports soldiers and their families who are stationed at Fort Campbell in Kentucky with scholarships and financial aid for child enrichment programs and services. Distillery visitors can have their bottles engraved between May 26th and May 29th, and there will be additional opportunities at liquor stores around Louisville and Elizabethtown thru the
end of June (Westport Whiskey and Wine will have their event June 22nd from 5-8 p.m.). If you are unable to make it to one of these locations, you can still purchase from ReserveBar.com and use the promo code WR101st. In addition, consider making a donation to Cigars for Warriors this weekend. Cash and cigar donations are welcomed and will be sent to troops serving in combat zones first. In Louisville donations can be made at J. Shepherd and Riverside/Match, and you can find a donation center near you here. So this weekend I will be drinking a Woodford Reserve Double Oaked at the new Match Cigar Bar in New Albany while smoking a cigar and donating one to Cigars for Warriors. See you there?
Brian Petro: I have been pouring myself into rum over the last few months: reading books on it, increasing my collection of it and exploring how different ones work in cocktails. The fortunate part is that the people I will be spending the weekend with allow me to experiment on them. Everything from darker, aged rums to light and bright rum is going into someone’s glass this weekend. I have a few bottles of rum from Portside Distillery in Cleveland I have not really broken into yet, some Zaya Gran Reserva to play with, and an unopened bottle of Diplomático Reserva.
Francine Cohen: In a world that seems so torn apart by claims of yellow journalism (aka fake news), disgraced, and disgraceful, politicians, not to mention terror attacks, sometimes you just need a drink. Something that punctuates the day, or even the last few months, and puts the past behind you like the last day of school.
Memorial Day has always been that dividing line for me. And this year I am toasting the men and women of our armed forces with a glass of chilled Luxardo Bitter Bianco (silver medal, 2016
NYISC).The bittersweet aperitivo seems the perfect pairing partner after returning from the annual memorial ceremony at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Riverside Drive and 89th Street. Designed by the firm of Stoughton & Stoughton with Paul E.M. DuBoy, and completed in 1902, it stands to commemorate Union Army soldiers and sailors who served in the Civil War.
While that war is long behind us, as are the bittersweet tears shed by those warriors’ family members, the sounds of the Navy band and sights of pageantry and evident pride as each wreath is presented by another veterans’ association reminds us forever that someone has always been there and will continue to be there to fight for our rights and way of life. And, that ultimately, this country is better when we are not divided.
Cheers to our troops!