Refreshing Drinks to Beat the August Heat

Everyone who knows me knows I love whiskey. Bourbon, Irish, Scotch, Rye…. It also is welcome to me.

This summer, I enjoyed a great deal of Kentucky classic’s, especially Knob Creek and Harper’s. A liquor store near my office is selling fifths for $25, so can you blame me?

I also enjoyed an odd duck of a bourbon: Sonoma County Distilling Co.’s West of Kentucky Bourbon Whisky No. 1. To the corn and rye mash the distiller added cherrywood smoked malted barley. And it shows — there is a faint cherry aroma to this oily, slightly herbal whisky. They bottled this in August 2016, and made only 300 cases, so if you want to try it, best hurry up and source a bottle.

But it now is August, and the temperature and humidity often is above 90. My Ohio blood is too thick for this weather, and my thirst turns to lighter fare. I won’t say no to a hop-bomb IPA, or a whiskey, for that matter. What really appeals, however, are drinks that are cold and crisp.

A bottle of Proud Pour Sauvignon Blanc ($18) showed up at my door a few months ago, and it well fit the bill. It noses of grapefruit and paired well with salads and roast vegetables. All the more satisfying is that buying a bottle helps fund the growth of more oysters, with which this wine pairs well.

I accidentally made the acquaintance of Zardetto Z Brut recently, which was happy luck. This bargain ($13) prosecco really hit the spot as I sweltered over a grill loaded with dogs and burgers.

I have enjoyed many rosé wines this summer. A decade ago you’d be lucky to find a couple in your local wine shop. Now supermarkets may stock offer a half-dozen or more brands, most of which are priced between $8 and $15. Brands I have tried (and whose names I recall) include Gerard Bertrand, Famille Perrin Reserve, and La Vieille Ferme. In my experience, it is hard to go wrong with rosé — I do not recall once buying a bottle and thinking, “Ugh, this is a disappointment.” (That has happened with plenty of red wines.)

No recitation of hot weather drinks recommendation would be complete without the gin and tonic. A Bombay or Tanqueray and tonic with a slice of lime is a wonderous thing. Those who want to spice up the old G&T have a wealth of options, what with the flood of new gins and the arrival of some really remarkable tonics (e.g., Fever-Tree).

Yes, summer is here, and the heat is on. But who needs water with so many other delicious, refreshing choices?

Kevin R. Kosar is a senior fellow at R Street Institute and heads its alcohol policy reform program. He is the author of Moonshine: A Global History (2017) and Whiskey: A Global History (2010). This column previously appeared on the American Spectator.


Hall Winery T Bar T Ranch Alexander Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Hall Napa Valley T Bar T Ranch Alexander Valley Sauvignon Blancby Jacob

Wine is always a welcome gift, it gives us the opportunity to try something new and to learn more about wines that entice our family and friends.
A bottle of the 2010 Hall Winery T Bar T Ranch Alexander Valley Sauvignon Blanc came as a gift from my brother after his trip to Napa Valley last year. Hall is winery that I have heard a lot about from other friends, but never had the chance to try.
The $30 wine is a light straw color in the glass and smells great, with a bright floral and citrus (lemon) nose. It is a complex Sauvignon Blanc that almost tastes as if it was aged for a short time in oak barrels, as it has a combination of citrus and light oak. Unlike many New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc’s, it does not have the grass flavor that so often comes with the grape. Hall has done a great job of mellowing the wine.
If you have the chance to try it, go for it—the 2012 is still available! It is excellent. (Rating: Very Good)

Wines We Have Enjoyed Recently

Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages 2012: This Gamay runs about $10 a bottle. It is a light red wine with red fruit, baking spice, and cedar notes. This is a picnic-friendly wine. (Rating ***3/4)

Cardinal Zin Beastly Old Vines 2011: We wanted a perfectly passable red plonk and we found it. This mildly fruity and black peppery Zinfandel ran $9 at Safeway. It paired just fine with pasta and out-of-the-jar red sauce. (Rating ***1/4)

Catena Malbec 2010: This inky red wine from Argentina ran $13 at Costco and was worth every penny. It’s viscous and thick with fruit flavor. Delicious alone or with red meat. (Rating ****)

Santa Rita 120 Sauvignon Blanc 2011: Santa Rita has been around for years, but this slickly packaged new label caught our eyes, as did the $7 price tag at Whole Foods. It is crisp with a slightly peachy flavor. Good white plonk for the price. (Rating ***1/2)

Chateu Petit-Freylon Bordeaux Superioire Cuvee Sarah 2010: This Cabernet Sauvignon (75%)-Merlot (25%) blend is decent wine. It shows hints of that Bordeaux profile—blueberry, cedar, and less-than-booming fruit. The body was a bit thin, but what could one expect for $11 a bottle. (Rating ***1/2)

You may check with our preferred retailer to see if they can ship you any of these wines by clicking here.



Chateau Les Arromans Entre-Deux-Mers White Bordeaux 2010

by Jacob

If you read most wine books, the author almost always begins by telling a story about the first time they tasted “real” wine and realized it was more than the Boone’s Farm or white zinfandel most college students come in contact with.  If you look closely at those stories, almost all are about a French wine, often Bordeaux.

For whatever reason, my experience with wine has been opposite those of other wine writers.  I discovered “fine” wine in California, and I have been a big supporter of domestic wine ever since.  Needless to say, I do not have a lot of experience with French wine, but I am working to change that.

While I slowly work my way through traditional Red Bordeaux and Burgandy, when it is as hot as it has been in the Washington, DC area, sometimes a white wine hits the spot. To that end, I bought a white Bordeaux at Rodman’s in DC a few weeks ago for $10.99.

The 2010 Chateau Les Arromans Entre-Deux-Mers is a traditional white wine from the Entre-Deux-Mers “section” of Bordeaux.  Made of 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Semillion, it has classic Sauvignon Blanc notes of lemon peel and earthiness on the nose. In the glass, it has hints of grass (another traditional Sauvignon Blanc feature) with citrus notes and a sweet finish.  Oddly, this wine appeared to be slightly effervescent and had sediment in the bottle, a feature normally associated with older red wines.  At 12.5% alcohol, it is a good bargain and easy to drink.  (Rating ****)


Ten Sisters Sauvignon Blanc 2010 and Pinot Noir 2009 (Single Vineyard, Marlborough)

It is not everyday that a woman from New Zealand shows up at our door. Would that it were, though between the spastic labrador, two children under the age of five, and the general mayhem any woman of sense would flee immediately.  And there is the Mrs., who has a formidable right hook… But we digress.

Ellie Bartow is a woman of sense, but she is not easily ruffled.  As the managing editor of the  The American magazine, she spends the work week elbow-deep in the heady waters at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the mighty DC thinktank. (How’s that for imagery, kids!)

But one day in June she donned her vino cap and popped by our digs for the sake of sharing with us samples of Ten Sisters wines.  (Disclosure: We have written for the American.)

Bartow is the daughter of the fourth of the 10 sisters, and runs the family wine business here in the United States.  (How she finds the time we do not know.) The wine is made from her grandparents’ Marlborough vineyard and is distributed in Washington, DC, Virginia, Maryland, and Illinois.

On looking at the very cute label on the bottle, we had a flashback—this wine had been served at the AEI’s annual dinner this past May. We liked it then, and we enjoyed it again.

The Sauvignon Blanc 2010 landed a silver medal at the 2010 San Francisco International Wine Competition. We are not surprised—this white wine is delightful, showing tart pear, toast, and floral notes.  It is a steal at $15. (Rating ****1/4) The Pinot Noir ($26.99) is a lush amalgam of red fruit, blackberries, vanilla, cedar, and earth. (Rating ****)

Best to grab some quickly—only 4,000 cases of the Sauvignon Blanc were produced, and 200 of the Pinot Noir.  Further details are at


Benziger Family Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma/Lake County 2009


by Jacob

Part of the fun of visiting wine country is to look for wine from the vintage and wineries you visited when you get home.  Since every vintage of wine is a little different, the wine you taste  at the winery (or from the barrel, if you are so lucky) can be completely different from wine produced in the year you visit.  Since visiting Sonoma in August 2009, I have been on the lookout for 2009 wines to start hitting my grocery store shelves.

One of the first wines to be released from any vintage are whites, specifically Sauvignon Blanc.  Sauvignon Blanc, usually is fermented and “aged” in steel tanks—so it does not take as long to mature as other whites, or certainly red wines (although there are aged Sauvignon Blancs too).  As I was looking through our grocery store’s wine selection for a light white wine to pair with salmon for my 4th of July BBQ, I saw the 2009 Benziger Family Sonoma/Lake County Sauvignon Blanc in the refrigerator section, and decided I had to try it.

Benziger Winery is a certified Biodynamic winery located in Glen Ellen, CA (in Sonoma Valley).  For the 2009 Sonoma/Lake County wine, the grapes are 60% from Sonoma County and 40% from Lake County (which stands in contrast to the 2008, where the grapes were more from Lake County).

A light pale color in the glass, the first scent on the nose is lemon with fresh acidity.  The wine has a light taste with an excellent balance between acid and alcohol with lemon, grapefruit, and very, very mild grass coming through. This was a very enjoyable summer wine that paired well with cedar plank salmon.  A bottle runs $10.99 retail (*** 1/2).