You may not have learned in school, but the U.S. was founded on booze. Celebrate your civic duty by raising a glass to freedom (and embodying one of Ben Franklin’s 200 words for “drunk”).
Rum for your life
The Sugar Act of 1764, which imposed taxes on sugar and molasses imported from the West Indies, was a big instigator of the “no taxation without representation” movement that helped spark the American Revolution. Colonists weren’t really interested in putting that sugar in their tea, or that molasses on their toast — the sugar and molasses were being used to make rum, which was both delicious and safer to drink than the water. Historians even think Paul Revere stopped along his famous midnight ride for a spot of rum.
The seasonal cocktail menu at Cobble Hill Eatery & Dispensary has two great rum-based cocktails that are quite quaffable for those moments when you’re feeling inspired by colonists of yore or avoiding water. Both drinks double down on the rum with two different blends each; the Good To Mama adds banana liqueur and charred pineapple for a sweetly tropical refresher, whereas their Where The Boats Go cocktail blends jalapeño, cilantro and lemon balm with coconut milk for a zesty, slightly spicy but tempered drink.
Basta also offers something delightfully consumable on the rum front: their signature Caipirissima cocktail. After you’ve cast your vote, use your sunny perch on their patio to express your thanks for those hard-working Americans that came before you. Because of them, you can sip on this rum-y, minty, boozy treat free of taxes from British parliament.
Wine and dine
Thomas Jefferson went deeply into debt importing wines from Europe for his extensive wine cellar. Jefferson collected more than 20,000 bottles of wine, but claimed he didn’t drink that much. “My measure is a perfectly sober one of three or four glasses at dinner, and not a drop at any other time,” he wrote to a friend. “But as to those three or four glasses I am very fond.”
Though not nearly as staggering as Jefferson’s personal collection of 20,000 wines, the selection of rare and unique house wines at Brix Cheese and Wine Shop presents quite the drinking dilemma. Thankfully, the genius half-glass option allows one to sample wine as Jefferson would, consuming three or four glasses in one sitting without feeling the ill-effects of over-indulgent behavior. If you don’t see something by the glass that tickles your fancy, the well-curated selection available by the bottle is certain to deliver something interesting. But you’re on your own as far as responsible imbibing is concerned.
Grin and beer it
Boston Tea Partier Samuel Adams, the Founding Father found on beer bottles, believed drinking American-made beer was a way of declaring independence. He encouraged patriots to boycott English beer and “bring our own October Beer [a strong beer] into fashion again.” Of course, Sam had a financial interest in this kind of patriotism — he’d inherited his father’s failing malt business. “Strong beer, or malt for those who incline to brew it themselves; to be sold by Samuel Adams, at a very reasonable rate,” read a 1751 ad in a Boston newspaper.
The dusky interior of Sanctuary Pub will transport you back to colonial days. The authentic pub vibes of this cozy wood-paneled bar offer respite for weary voters alongside a wide selection of beers. The Sanctuary consistently presents the best beers available on the local and international front at a very reasonable rate, and the addition of live music, typically of the jazz or folk variety, makes this south-of-downtown watering hole the place to go for lively connection with fellow community members.
At the same time George Washington, the founding-est of all our Founding Fathers, was serving as our first president, he was also one of the country’s leading producers of whiskey, thanks to the distillery on his Mount Vernon plantation.
These days, the distilling operation at local darling Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery certainly outshines old Georgie’s setup. The tasting room of this Cedar Rapids distillery is also thankfully not on a plantation, but does offer beautiful views of the hearty crop of grapes used to produce the label’s wine. With five whiskies and bourbons in their award-winning portfolio, there’s also plenty to sample in the tasting room or at the bar from single malt to malted rye, wheat whiskey to reserve bourbons. Cedar Ridge even ventures into mixology with their creative spin on classic cocktails such as the Honey Pepper Penicillin, the Provencal or a Salted Caramel Old Fashioned.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 243.