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Founding Fathers Friday Cocktails - Thomas Jefferson

Apparently, I have Thomas Jefferson to thank for all of those expensive bottles of French wine my wife prefers.  But one can not fault Jefferson for his influence on America's evolving taste buds, from our old British habits to a more international palate.   As noted in an overview from Monticello.org"he recalled in 1817, "[T]he taste of this country [was] artificially created by our long restraint under the English government to the strong wines of Portugal and Spain." The revolution of his own taste in wine followed swiftly on the breaking of bonds with the British colonial government. Thereafter, Jefferson rejected the alcoholic wines favored by Englishmen as well as the toasts that customarily accompanied them. Instead, he chose to drink and serve the fine lighter wines of France and Italy, and hoped that his countrymen would follow his example."  

Certainly, if wine was good enough for the 3rd president of the United States, who was also a vice president, secretary of state, diplomatic minister, congressman, governor of Virginia (as well as serving on the House of Delegates & Burgesses) not to mention a lawyer, farmer, writer, architect and who was modest in writing his own epitaph noting only 3 accomplishments: "Here Was Buried/Thomas Jefferson/Author Of The/Declaration/Of American Independence/Of The/Statue of Virginia/For/Religious Freedom/And Father Of The/University Of Virginia" then by all means, wine is certainly good enough for the rest of us!

I am not a wine connoisseur and will not even begin to suggest which wines you should try as they range greatly in flavor and price.  If wine is something you would like to learn more about then I highly recommend you visit your local wine shop.  Smaller stores are very knowledgable on the subject and can offer you the perfect bottle.  Most will even offer free wine samplings once a week so you can expand your palate.  Instead, I offer you some wine cocktails for your enjoyment.

File:Official Presidential portrait of Thomas Jefferson (by ...

The New York Sour
2 oz bourbon
1 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
1 1/2 oz dry red wine

Fill a rocks glass with ice. Shake bourbon, lemon juice and simple syrup in cocktail shaker, filled with ice, until chilled.  Strain into a glass.  Pour red wine over the back of a spoon to float on top of the drink.

Bishop 
3 oz rum
1 oz red wine
Juice from 1/2 lime 
1 tsp simple syrup

Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice until chilled.  Stain into a wine glass.

Sangria
1 bottle of red wine 
1/2 cup cognac/brandy
1/4 cup orange liqueur
1 oz fresh orange juice
1 oz fresh lime juice
2 tsp sugar
1 small orange, thinly sliced
1 small lemon, thinly sliced
1 750ml bottle sparkling water

Combine everything, except the sparkling water, into a glass pitcher.  Cover and chill at least 2 hours, over night preferably.  Before serving, pour in the sparkling water and serve over ice.

Scuppernong Wine

Upon Jefferson's death in 1826, his cellar at Monticello contained mostly wines from southern France.  It was also noted that he had "sufficient" quantities of Scuppernong wine from North Carolina.  Scuppernong is a large variety of muscadine grapes that grows in the South.  If you happen to have a bounty of Scuppernongs this growing seasoning then you might want to try your hand at making your own wine.  Please note, I have never made this recipe, nor know the first thing about making wine so proceed with caution.