by Jenny Benzie, Advanced Sommelier + Certified Wine Educator, Proprietress of Épernay Wine & Spirits
There is no doubt that summertime is full of entertaining. The weather is warm so you can relax outside, the flowers in full bloom provide perfect table decor, and the relaxed pace is just right for sipping on something refreshing that will quench your vacation thirst. Whether it be a few friends kicking it on the back porch, your annual July open-house fête at your summer residence, or as a housewarming gift to a new Nantucket homeowner, there are a handful of essential liquors you should have on hand in order to stock your back bar for any discerning guest.
It is always best to stock four key basic liquors to get your party started. These are essential for your most basic cocktail: a combination of spirit with a non-alcohol mixer garnished with a slice of fruit. As we celebrate the upcoming all-American Fourth of July holiday, consider a selection of top-quality American made spirits. These are sure to impress without putting a dent in your summer budget fun, and they something safer to discuss than politics.
Named after the Privateers who waged battle at sea during the revolution off the coast (and also distilled rum), this rum is made in Ipswich, Massachusetts under the direction of Andrew Cabot. What makes this “True American” rum unique and delicious is that it is made from the purest of high-quality ingredients available.
Best to get a matching bottle of white (often referred to as silver because it has not been aged in oak), and an amber (sometimes called dark due to the color) rum for different drink recipes.
The silver rum is smooth, clean and hand-crafted with conviction by doing what is right to create a pure spirit. Perfect on the rocks with a splash of Fever Tree Light Tonic and a squeeze of lime.
For the amber rum, it is aged in the maritime climate of New England and cask finished in used whiskey and bourbon barrels for an added depth. There is no added molasses for color, taste or texture as found in most mass-produced rum brands. Mix this with a splash of Farmer Willie’s Craft Ginger Beer (alcoholic) for a little added punch.
Distilled in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, New York City, this urban distillery released their flagship American Dry Gin just a few years ago. Founded by gin enthusiast Steven DeAngelo and his brother Philip, Greenhook Ginsmiths have quickly emerged as American’s premier gin artisans. The use an unique “vacuum distillation” technique to remove air pressure from the copper pot still during distillation. This enables them to distill at a low temperature to prevent the delicate aromas from the botanicals to become too harsh or damaged in the process. This beautifully fragrant gin has delicate aromas and vibrant flavors unlike other London Dry or other styles of gin. Use in place of rum for a piña colada and you will never think of the Caribbean the same again.
WHISTLE PIG WHISKEY
The ultimate goal for Whistle Pig Whiskey is to realize a vision of creating a true farm-to-bottle whiskey. Not just All American, but one the finest whiskey in the world that is entirely sourced, rye and all, from its home base from their Vermont farm. Enter their newest product “Farmstock.” Rye Crop 001, as their bottling production of this ethereal spirit is named, takes the best features of their estate whiskey, which only youth can provide, with the richness of their best five to six-year ryes, topped off with the splendor of their 12 Year whiskey. This is made from their own grain, own wood, own water – quite a feat in the world of whiskey production. Best served with neat with only a chilled whiskey rock. And perhaps a cigar on the side.
Now considered a household name, you can mention Tito’s sans the word vodka and most people would know what you are referencing. Distilled in Austin, Texas, this ever popular vodka created a tremendous following for itself by being made from corn versus wheat like most other vodkas, hence making it gluten free. Tito’s rise to fame came as a true American start from scratch, rags to riches story. Tito Beverage (yes, that is his real name) makes his vodka in batches, used old-fashioned pots stills and taste-tests every batch to make sure you only get the best. Available in several different size options, be sure to get the one that meets your needs not only in quantity, but also in shape to display nicely with your other bar selections.
This quick list is a great way to get your party started All-American style this weekend. Be sure to stock up on mixers, garnishes and handful of cheese selections to have some nibbles for your event. Be sure to pre-plan for the appropriate amount of people in attendance and don’t forget the ice!