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.


Stone Hill Golden Spumante Sparkling Wine


Aaaaaahhhhhh—Derby Day. Yes the Juleps are being poured. But for those who want something else, here is an option.

Stone Hill Winery of Missouri makes a nice sparkling wine for $14 a bottle. We like to pop a blackberry or two  in it. A little sweet, and very enjoyable on a late spring day. For more information or to order a bottle, surf to


Gabrielle Sparkling Rose Wine


Well, that bottle went quickly.

The sweltering season is upon us—with the thermometer oozing over 90 degrees, and nary a breeze to be found.

In such weather, sure, an icy, light-bodied beer can refresh. But our palates cried out for chilled bubbly. It is cool, wet, and inevitably crisp and more akin to water than beer.

Gabrielle Rose of New York really fit the bill. Its flavor stood up to the olives we chomped, and

The price is right—just $15 a bottle.

This is a wine to keep in stock for the balmy days or whenever you crave a bit of levity.

We polished off this bottle with dinner, and were the happier for it. (Rating: Very Good)

Read more or shop for Gabrielle Rose Sparkling Wine at:


NV Dibon Cellars Cava Rosado

Dibon Cellars Cava Rosadoby B.D. Fischer

Traditionally, I eat fried chicken (a notorious difficult wine pair) for the Super Bowl, and I intended to get takeout from this hip new Korean wing joint in Edgewater but that provide impossible this year for reasons that are complicated. I was not able to procure Mexican food, either; a notice on their door said that they were closed so that we, i.e., the customers, could enjoy our Super Bowl. As if enjoying the Super Bowl with Mexican food were some preposterous, outlandish idea. I ended up at Target (where I had been two hours previous) eight minutes before kickoff and purchased a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and pack of hot dogs.

The wine would be an NV Dibon Cava Rosado (rosé). Although my cellar needs replenishing and this was only partly a matter of choice, it was inspired. This is the type of wine that, except for a select few of you, you aren’t drinking enough of. I know that I’m not. Cava is the most popular Spanish sparkling. It tastes generally flatter (not meaning that derogatorily; this is a quality I associate also with esoteric Spanish reds) than Champagne, to which it is frequently compared, a certain slashing quality to the bubbles, which stick to the tongue. Usually dry, although it comes in the sec/semisec/dolsec varieties, too.

The rosé, however, suffers when the strawberry–small quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, or Monastrell are added to give the rosado its beautiful pink–is moved to the front, as it is in this case. The strong fruit contradicts the dryness, inducing a cognitive dissonance that is mostly unpleasant, although it still feels wonderful in the mouth, seeming to crawl along the tongue.

None of this obviates the inspiration of my $14 choice. A better cava—and they are not hard to find, although you may have to pay $20 or $22—would have been outstanding with all of fried chicken (McInerney recommends Zinfandel, which is also inspired), Mexican, and (I can verify this one) hot dogs and corn chips. That’s a tall order, but like many difficult wine questions this one is answered by bubbles. (Rating: Good)

NV Dibon Cava Rosado is imported to the U.S. by Julienne Importing, of Chicago.


Becky Sue Epstein, Champagne: A Global History

Becky Sue Epstein has done a fine thing—she has produced an authoritative and easy-to-read primer on bubbly in a mere 132 pages.

Epstein has been exploring and writing about food since the 1980s, and her experience shows. She deftly covers Champagne from its origins to present-day iconic status in crisp matter-of-fact prose.  You won’t catch her passing off romantic wine-industry hooey.

Epstein also weaves in coverage of other sparking wines—Asti, Prosecco, Cava, and more.  Champagne: A Global History (Reaktion, 2011) has lovely illustrations, along with buying, storage, and serving advice, and cocktail recipes. It can be read in four to eight hours, after which the reader might feel the itch to heard to the wine store to shop for some bottles of bubbly.

Click here to learn more or purchase a copy of Champagne: A Global History.


Tarantas Cava Brut 2007

Bubbly is a gift to mankind.  Organic bubbly is, well, a gift wrapped within virtue.

We enjoyed sharing this organic sparkling wine with a couple guests. Indeed, we enjoyed it so much that the bottle disappeared within half an hour.  We should have stocked more!

Lots of folks still cling to the notion that good bubbly has to be pricey.  While we’d never advise buying anything at the $5 price point, Tarantas Cava puts the lie to this notion.  It goes for just $12.99—quite a deal.

You can learn more about this bubbly at