American Liquor: Celebrate the 4th With Booze Made in the USABy Jake Emen
So you’ve got your friends and family all gathered around for a July 4th celebration. You planned the entire event from the invite list to the party favors.You’re ready to sit back, relax and watch some fireworks. But, hang on, is that a scotch whisky in your hand? A Jamaican rum? No, that won’t do. But don’t worry. Across the US of A, spirits of all sorts are being made. From whiskey to rum and everything in between, we Americans make it all. This roundup of American liquor will get you in the spirit!
Ideal to get the party started in the afternoon, use St. George’s Bruto Americano as your go-to bitter for sunny spritzes and other low ABV refreshers. Even better, it can be a partner for cocktails in place of imports such as Campari. Bitter but perhaps less bracing than its big name counterpart, and balanced with bright citrus, Bruto is an all-purpose American liquor that’s perfect for your holiday shindig.
America may be a whiskey country, but the oldest family-owned distillery actually produces applejack. Laird & Company predates the country’s founding and was fuel for thirsty revolutionary soldiers as they fought through New Jersey. The brand’s current Straight Applejack 86 offering is 100% apple brandy, as opposed to a blended applejack which uses grain whiskey. At 86 proof, this applejack works very nicely in cocktails. Try it as your base spirit in an Old Fashioned.
Seattle’s own Westland Distillery is at the forefront of the American single malt movement, and its annual Garryana release takes the concept even further. Garryana is the namesake species of white oak, found in the pacific northwest which handles some of the whiskey’s maturation duties. This type of oak uniquely lends both a smoky and jammy quality to the whiskey, and is a great reflection of Westland’s local-centric approach to production.
You can’t toast Independence Day with a U.K. imported London Dry gin (that’s what we fought the bloody war for, I think). But if you’re craving a refreshing G&T on a warm July day, look no further than Barr Hill Tom Cat Gin. This wonderful American liquor is buoyed by up to six months of aging in oak. The gin is also made with raw honey, which balances out the botanicals in a different way from most other gins. If you’re not in the mood for a G&T, you can also enjoy it on its own. Likewise, pair it with the Bruto in a cocktail, or splash it with soda—American-made, of course.
July 4th is no time for a bashful bourbon. Belle Meade’s Cask Strength Reserve shouts ‘Merica as loud and proud as the fireworks themselves. Nelson’s Green Brier offers this expression from sourced high-rye bourbon ranging from seven to 11 years of age, and selected from some of their choicest barrels. Try it neat, but also consider icing it down. This rich, spicy, chewy bourbon will do your forefathers proud alongside another burger from the grill.
When the evening is coming to a close, perhaps a cigar and a nightcap are what the doctor ordered. Or maybe you’re looking for something to savor alongside dessert. In either case, Osocalis XO is just the closer you need. After tasting this elegant sipping brandy, you may be surprised that it’s made right here in the United States. Dried fruits, soft spice, candied citrus peel and dark chocolate are all offered up in this sultry Californian brandy.
One need not look to the Caribbean if you want excellent rum for your festivities. Privateer’s Navy Yard represents New England’s tradition of rum distillation while simultaneously eclipsing, by far, what was being made centuries ago in the colonies. Aged in full-size, new oak barrels, Privateer Navy Yard packs an oaky, spicy punch. However, the vanillins from the new casks alongside the molasses-based spirit lends a deep richness to the rum. Enjoy this American liquor neat, on the rocks, or perhaps in a large-format punch you whip up for the festivities.
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