If you’re having a 4th of July BBQ, then it’s likely you’re stocking the thing with beer, wine, and a little liquor. And if you’re stocking it with beer, wine, and a little liquor, it might as well be American-made beer, wine, and liquor (following me here?). As much as we love our imports, it’s good to “shop local” and with so many great American upstarts in the booze category, it’s more fun than ever to sprinkle a few newbies in, along with those old standbys.
Bourbon whiskey is widely thought of as the most prominent and popular alcohol to originate here, our very own “native spirit,” and the west coast has long churned out some of the world’s best summer reds and white wines. And then there’s beer. The U.S. has more amazing craft breweries than the rest of the world combined (probably). So yeah, you’ve got options.
Here are some of our favorite American-made beers, wines, and whiskeys (and maybe one vodka) to try for the 4th of July.
American Whiskey & Bourbon
Whiskey just feels right for the Fourth. And sure, we dig American mainstays like Maker’s Mark and Eagle Rare but they’ve pocketed plenty of our coins over the years. There are truly tons of great up-and-coming whiskey producers worth checking out this summer.
My dad (a moderately staunch Jim Beam drinker who swears it’s as good as anything) and I had a tasting of Beam and Balcones Texas Bourbon recently. No shade to Jim Beam, a fine bourbon at a fine price, but even my dad had to admit it was the superior pour.
The Virginia Distillery Company distillery partners with local beer breweries to finish its marriage of Virginia-Highland Whisky in beer barrels for roughly a year. The result is a clean golden whiskey with apple, vanilla, and banana notes; a muted spice, and bready finish.
This spicy rye whiskey made in, you guessed it, New York, is rich and complex with black pepper that slides into a sweeter buttery finish. It has some national distribution and can be found almost anywhere in the northeast and of course, online.
A little distillery that could: This operation started up in the smallest of the 13 original colonies, Rhode Island, about a decade ago. They make a few smooth-as-heck whiskeys and even a few vodkas and malted drinks, but for my money, the cask-strength bourbon is the best bottle that comes out of this distiller’s doors.
If you think there are a lot of new whiskeys on the scene, your head will explode trying to get a handle on all the American microbreweries dotting the map (over 7,000 at last count). What’s more, if you’re trying to reconcile your love of beer with a low calorie or low carbohydrate lifestyle for summer, there are a ton of fantastic new low-carb beers on the market, too.
If you’re fond of beer, like me, but not as fond of the accompanying beer belly (also like me) you’re giddy with the recent advent of full-bodied, dare-I-say hoppy beers in the low-cal, low-carb category. Southern Tier’s new release has a paltry 110 calories and nice citrusy hop. Perfect for summer and 4th of July weekend.
Coleman Cooler Steel-Belted Cooler, $69.99 on Amazon
A slick, durable cooler to house your summer BBQ booze.
This may sound like anything but an American brand but the brewery is actually based in Wisconsin and was founded back in 1867! Their awesome shandies can be found nationally, especially during summer months, and for good reason. It’s light and fruity but not overly sweet, so still awfully refreshing on a hot summer afternoon.
This is one of the better low-carb beers to hit the market in recent years. Slightly lighter than your average IPA but with a nice balance, and just 4% ABV so you can drink responsibly, but also endlessly.
Ballast Point is a nice balanced lager for all your summer BBQ and Fourth of July needs. It’s made in San Diego and can be found nationally. It’s clean drinking and if you’re drawn to Budweiser, Heineken, or other medium bodied lagers, give Ballast Point a shot to change things up and support a smaller brewery.
And lest we forget the wine. It’s not news that this great nation is chock-full of fabulous wineries (even if most happen to reside on the west coast). Here are a few perfect for summer as recommended by our editorial team.
A surprisingly fresh Cabernet, says our resident wine wiz, Pamela Vachon, great for pairing grilled meats, plus it has a built-in charity function benefiting veterans, so yeah, patriotism!
Our Editor at Large Joey Skladany‘s go-to red for any special occasions or fancy summer BBQs. Smooth, easy-drinking, and pairs well with food. At $60, you may not want to stock the bar with it, but it’s the perfect bottle to bring as a gift.
PortablePortable High Top Party Bar, $64.99 on Amazon
Do you absolutely need a portable party bar? Yes.
Viognier is Virginia’s signature varietal and a fun one to try for such an American holiday, says Vachon. Full-bodied with tropical fruit, this Virginian will please many a palate.
Related Reading: The Best Grills, BBQ Tools, and Grill Accessories
One of my personal favorite summer whites. If you’re cooking up some fish along with your dogs, burger, and BBQ for the Fourth, this Oregon Pinot Gris with tropical notes and a balance of acidity will make the perfect companion.
*Honorable Mention Vodka
Tito’s continues to be one of the best stories in booze over the last decade plus. Smooth as all get out, this American vodka brand out of Austin, Texas, has always given back through big charitable donations and other programs. An American liquor brand you can truly feel good about spending your coins on.
Header image by Chowhound