Each year around Independence Day, we put together a list of our favorite pours from and drinking destinations in each state of the union. Expect to find Arkansas Bourbon represented alongside California Chardonnay, Connecticut New England-style IPA and Mississippi collard-wrapped catfish (paired with a fantastic Riesling, of course). So this July 4th, drink up these selections or stop at these destinations to experience the delicious diversity of the U.S.
Alabama’s commercial alcohol production is still comparatively low, due to the state’s complex liquor laws. But that hasn’t stopped its largest city, Birmingham, from becoming a world-class dining destination with an impressive drinks scene. It’s easy to see why it’s dubbed “The Magic City,” with restaurants like Highlands Bar & Grill, owned by one of the city’s most influential chefs, Frank Stitt. Highlands offers an extensive wine, beer and cocktail list to pair with the restaurant’s French-influenced dishes. Meanwhile, institutions like James Beard Award-semifinalist Atomic Bar and Lounge, with their legendary “Sex Panther” cocktail, continue to impress without losing their casual, Southern charm.
Alaskan Hopothermia Double IPA; $11, 92 points. This is a deliciously dank yet well-balanced brew, the assertive hop notes framed against a lightly sweet, malty core. It’s smooth and surprisingly easy-drinking from start to finish, with attractive aromas and flavors of fresh grass, pine needle, tangerine, grapefruit peel and firm mango. Glimmers of caramel, biscuit and yeast provide weight and richness to the full-bodied mouthfeel, while the slightly slick, oily texture is lifted on the subtly warm, dry finish. –Lauren Buzzeo
Hop Knot IPA; $8, 87 points. A deep orange-amber color with a slight haze, this is a bold and hop-forward pour. The nose leads with a fruity mélange—tropical, stone and citrus fruits all abound—with warm herbal, piney notes that dances right behind the bright fruit character. The smooth, slightly sticky palate offers soft carbonation and a caramel malt core that grounds the hop profile, with a mild bitterness and warmth that hangs around on the close. –L.B.
Rock Town Four Grain Sour Mash Bourbon; $40, 89 points. This Bourbon is made with 72% corn and 9% each of wheat, rye and malted barley, then is aged for 20 months. Notes of clove, cocoa and leather wrap around an oaky core, finishing with maple sweetness. —Kara Newman
Kokomo 2017 Peters Vineyard Chardonnay (Russian River Valley); $32, 94 points. This wine is vibrant and layered with accents of spicy oak. Salt, wet stone and pretzel flavors are complemented by more traditional notions of green apple and pear, with flourishes of hazelnut and vanilla on the close. Editors’ Choice. –Virginie Boone
Stone Cottage 2017 Syrah (Colorado); $22, 90 points. Rich blackberry and red cherry aromas are joined by dried herbs, white pepper and a subtle saline character on the nose. This has a quiet palate that’s very smooth, with good acidity and gentle tannins. It delivers flavors of dark berries, black plums, herbs de Provence and pink peppercorns. It is very sleek and delicious, and would be great with rabbit or similarly gamy meats. Editors’ Choice. –Fiona Adams
Two Roads Two Juicy New England Style IPA; $15, 93 points. This unfiltered brew is made with Hallertau Blanc, Citra and Mandarina Bavaria hops. It pours a hazy golden-orange color, with a creamy white head that shows decent retention. The nose is all pink grapefruit, pineapple and mango. The medium-weight palate is remarkably smooth and plush, with more of those bright tropical-fruit tones marrying seamlessly to a light malt backbone. It’s well balanced, with a slight dank impression that flashes on the slick yet crisp finish. –L.B.
Dogfish Head Liquid Truth Serum IPA; $10, 92 points. This is four times the fun, with whole leaf, liquefied, pelletized and powdered hops in the mix. That might sound like a lot—or too much—but it all comes across as harmonious, coupling the intense hop tones with the solid malt core. The aromas lead with assertive citrus zest, peach and pineapple notes, with a bitter impression but not overly so. On the palate, the bitterness amps up, and the feel is slightly sticky, but it’s balanced by ample carbonation and a sweet caramel-malt presence. Flavors of grapefruit zest and light pine needle kiss the close. –L.B.
Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale; $11, 91 points. This pours a solid dark-brown color, with a small tan head that falls rather fast. The nose is pleasantly roasty upfront, with rich scents of caramel malt, milk chocolate, toffee and espresso that all complement the roasted peanut core. The medium-weight palate offers more of the same, with a woody accent that gains traction through the earthy close. The crisp carbonation keeps the palate lively, balancing the toasty, slightly decadent flavors and resulting in a clean finish that leaves you ready for more. With only moderate alcohol, it’s a satisfying and richly flavored pour that won’t leave you on the floor after a few samples. –L.B.
When thinking wedding destinations and wine, Georgia may not be the first place that comes to mind. But after seeing the views at Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery, you’ll surely change your mind about the Peach State. Located less than 60 miles from Atlanta, Wolf Mountain produces Méthode Champenoise sparkling bottles, whites, rosés and hosts 60 private events per season.
Honolulu’s food and drink scene has grown into one of the country’s best. Throw in the beautiful beaches, volcano hiking and world-class surf and you have the ultimate destination. Look for Peter Merriman’s Moku Kitchen. This farm-to table restaurant’s seasonal menu is sure to have something for everyone. If you’re just looking for drinks, you are going to want to head to Bevy. An upscale New York City-style deli by day, at 4pm this spot becomes on the best cocktail bars in Hawaii.
Bitner 2017 Riesling; $17, 90 points. The aromas are vibrant, with notes of apricot, tangerine peel and flower. It drinks off-dry, with bright acidity, exquisite balance and a lengthy finish. Delicious stuff. Editors’ Choice. –Sean P. Sullivan
Skeptic Vacuum Distilled Gin; $39, 91 points. The bright spearmint scent gives a hint of what’s to come: a refreshing, tingly sip with plenty of lemon peel, juniper and minty zing, with just a tinge of sweetness on the exhale. Distilled from corn, with botanicals that include hibiscus, gooseberry, mango and cardamom, although the soft palate doesn’t read as particularly floral or fruity. It’s pleasing just the same. Limited edition. –K.N.
Rossville Union Master Crafted Straight Rye Whiskey; $40, 91 points. The bold, fruit-spiked scent beckons. The palate is relatively dry, opening with a wallop of vanilla and finishing long with zingy cinnamon, allspice and a hint of red fruit. A judicious splash of water tames the rye bite but keeps the spice. Aged at least four years. –K.N.
Cedar Ridge Single Malt Whiskey; $48, 95 points. This layered sipper is full of surprises. Fragrant with fresh apple and honeysuckle, the drying palate suggests dusty cocoa, leather and vanilla midpalate, freshened by a hint of apple-blossom freshness at the core. A final smoky exhale is reminiscent of lightly peated Scotch. —K.N.
The nearly 100,000 residents of Lawrence, Kansas embrace a wide variety of food and drink options, making the city one of our favorite low-key wine destinations. Head to 715 Restaurant where guests can enjoy New American cuisine with Tuscan influences peppered in. The restaurant also features a wine list with 20 by the glass options and around 100 bottles. If you’re looking for a bottle to take home, you’re sure to find one at On the Rocks. The shop stocks around 2,400 bottles from all over the world.
Four Roses 130th Anniversary Limited Edition Small Batch Bourbon; $140, 97 points. Released in September 2018 to commemorate the brand’s 130-year history, this small-batch Bourbon, released at cask strength, is suitably special. The aromas are warm and delicious, suggesting vanilla, oak and allspice. The palate reflects some of the older, spicier whiskeys in the blend, singing with gingersnap and cinnamon fireworks up front, but underpinned with some of the lushness promised by the aroma: vanilla, cocoa, hazelnut. There’s a brisk lemony snap to the spicy finish that leads off into a long vanilla fade. 13,140 bottles released. —K.N.
Nothing says Louisiana like a classic Sazerac cocktail, voted in 2008 by the state legislature as the official cocktail of New Orleans. A relative of the Old Fashioned, the key ingredient is the creation of Antoine Amédée Peychaud, who whose namesake Peychaud’s Bitters form the backbone of this drink, along with rye whiskey and absinthe. Mix one up and you’ll feel like you’re on a trip to The Pelican State.
Maine may not be regarded as prime wine country, but growers in this humble state are making impressive strides in the development of hybrid grapes. If local producers have their way, varieties that thrive in Maine like Cayuga, Frontenac, Marquette, Corot Noir and L’Acadie may soon become household names. With over two dozen wineries currently forming the Maine Wine Trail, it’s a good time to get to know this state’s influence on New England’s burgeoning wine scene.
Old Westminster 2018 Petillant Naturel Field Blend Piquette Sparkling (Maryland); $18, 88 points. Magenta in color, this smells of juicy red plum, raspberry and mulberry, with a herbaceous tinge of strawberry leaves. Ripe plum and black-raspberry flavors are grounded by earthy funk and forest floor on the palate. A fine fizz tickles the tongue with a briny character throughout. A white pepper note introduces the finish that lingers long on accents of fallen leaves and wild berries. —F.A.
Springdale Friends in Merlot Places; $13, 94 points. From Springdale, the sister brewery for ale and wild-fermentation experimentation to the lager-centric Jack’s Abby Brewing, this oak-aged sour was brewed with California Merlot juice then aged eight to 12 months in red-wine barrels made from French and American oak. The result is a harmonious, vibrant and grapy pour, with assertive vinous aromas of tart raspberry, cherry and balsamic that are partnered with seductive hints of cocoa powder, caramel and raw sweet dough. The palate is light and effervescent, with a tart mouthwatering pucker that leads the finish but is followed abruptly by whispers of sweet oaky spice, cocoa nib and leather. —L.B.
Verterra 2017 Dry Riesling (Leelanau Peninsula); $18, 91 points. Ripe peach and quince aromas are joined by blossoms and hints of pear on the elegant nose. Delicate white flowers, white peach and Meyer lemon are exquisite on the tingling, almost spritzy palate, leading into a long, lingering nectarine and clementine finish. Editors’ Choice. —F.A.
The University of Minnesota is a pioneer in the development of high-quality, cold-hardy grapes, and more than 70 wineries currently populate the state. In tandem with the rise of the Minnesota wine industry, Minneapolis has become a premiere Midwest wine destination, where award-winning restaurant programs and cellar selections meet the state’s famous friendliness and charm. It’s never been a better time to visit the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
“There’s a deep respect in the South for the idea that food and drink are about sharing,” says Chef Vishwesh Bhatt of Snackbar in Oxford, Mississippi. His menu seeks to showcase the deep culinary roots of the South while elevating it with top-tier wine pairings. In celebration of the catfish capital of the U.S., discover Chef Vish’s recipe for collard green-wrapped catfish paired with a delightful Riesling.
Side Project Brewing Blanc de Blancs Blend #2; $20, 95 points. Fermented in wine barrels with California Chardonnay grapes and aged in oak for more than 18 months, this is an intricate, nuanced pour that should appeal to wine- and beer-lovers alike. Aromas of white grape, green apple, lemon peel and pineapple rind immediately waft from the glass, while hints of fresh wheat, yeasty spice and barnyard appear upon deeper nosing. The palate is bright and lively in feel, despite the alcohol, thanks to tart citrus and stone-fruit flavors framed by aggressive acidity. Subtle hints of lemon pepper and earthy funk linger on the close. —L.B.
Whistling Andy Cucumber Gin; $27, 90 points. Prepare to mix pitchers of Gin & Tonics: this bold sipper offers plenty of cucumber on nose and palate, plus a vegetal aloe note and a rounded, earthy coriander hint on the ginger- and white pepper-accented finish. –K.N.
As quality wine offerings expand across America, Omaha continues to lead the Midwest forward when it comes to top-tier dining destinations with wine lists to match. “Omaha is a great dining town,” says Corey Keith, co-owner of Corkscrew Wine & Cheese. “The struggle is that the lack of size doesn’t put it on the national radar too often.” Nearby Nebraska producers like Cellar 426 and Soaring Wings offer visitors a broad taste of wines made from local grapes.
Las Vegas has plenty of high-end restaurants that feature some of the planet’s most impressive bottles and world-class wine lists, but the Silver State may offer another tasting program of interesting to wine and food lovers. Philip Wolf, co-founder of Cultivating Spirits, began to host weed-pairing dinners in Las Vegas in 2018, emphasizing the finer connections between the cannabis and culinary worlds. “Cannabis should be treated like fine wine,” he says. “It harmonizes so well with food when you have the right pairings.” Here’s a guide to get you started.
New Englanders: Feel left out that prime wine country often seems to be located on the opposite side of the country? There may be more to explore in your own backyard than you know. New Hampshire boasts more than 25 wineries, from traditional producers to fruit wine pioneers and meaderies, with a heavy emphasis on local ingredients. Take some time to explore our New Hampshire wine trail to discover what you may be missing.
William Heritage 2017 Estate Grown Rosé of Pinot Noir (Outer Coastal Plain); $22, 89 points. This pale rose-gold hued rosé offers pungent aromas of mid-summer rose garden and peach fuzz. Lightfooted flavors of lime leaf and mouthwatering citrus meet hints of white peach and crushed quartz. The bright, citrus finish is like biting into a ripe lime, with a hit of chalk on the close. —F.A.
With some of the winemaking highest elevations in the country, New Mexico produces almost 1 million cases annually. More than 40 wineries call the state home, perhaps most notably sparkling-wine powerhouse Gruet Winery. Interested in learning more? Take some time to explore New Mexico’s deep winemaking history.
Osprey’s Dominion 2013 Estate Bottled Cabernet Franc (North Fork of Long Island); $22, 92 points. Earthy aromas of tilled soil and resinous herbs immediately entice, with a dense core of dark cherry and red plum offering solid base notes. There’s real presence and intensity to the palate, displaying powerful waves of thick-skinned berry flavors that come with grip and persistence, but not overbearingly so. A granite twang and more earth tones linger on the finish. Drink now–2025. Editors’ Choice. —Alexander Peartree
Wicked Weed Lunatic Blonde Belgian-Style Ale; $13, 88 points. This pours a medium golden-yellow color, with a frothy white head. The nose is clean and attractive, with scents of fresh melon, banana and cracker malt that are hit by hints of clove and pepper. Those notes carry through to the medium-weight mouth, where moderately brisk carbonation mingles with a noticeable hop presence and keeps the palate enlivened. The dry finish boasts more of that hop profile, closing on a lightly bitter orange-rind flavor. —L.B.
Whether it’s wine or beer, North Dakota’s small producers have you covered. This trail from Fargo to Dickerson can help the curious discover the Peace Garden State’s unique wine scene. More interested in craft brews? Help the members of the North Dakota Brewers Guild celebrate a recent legislative win by stopping by one of their fine establishments.
Laurentia 2016 Estate Cabernet Franc (Grand River Valley) (Ohio); $32, 87 points. The wine is ruby-red and very opaque with a thin magenta rim in the glass. Dried cranberry, blueberry and chocolate-malt balls are a little sharp on the nose, with a hint of asphalt. Showing flavors of blackberry, cigar box, vanilla and tobacco, firm gritty tannins grip the tongue on the palate while acidity dances around them looking for an opening. Tannins grip through the finish, with a mouthpuckering peppery spice and black cherry. —F.A.
Prairie Wolf Spirits DARK; $22, 93 points. This velvety, nut-brown craft coffee liqueur is reminiscent of sweetened coffee dosed with dried orange peel and maple. Made with Kona coffee beans roasted in Oklahoma, plus vanilla, molasses and cane sugar, it has a rounded, almost Bourbon-like alcohol feel that cuts through the sweetness for a balanced sip. Best Buy. —K.N.
Patricia Green Cellars 2017 Medici Vineyard Pinot Noir (Chehalem Mountains); $48, 96 points. The original planting dates back a half century, and this wine comes from the oldest extant Pommard and Dijon 777 vines. It’s lively with excellent grip and weight, showing spiced cranberry fruit accented with lightly candied orange peel. In short, a detailed wine that dives deep with tasty baking spices through the finish. Drink now and over the next decade. Editors’ Choice. —Paul Gregutt
With 200+ wineries producing more than 1.6 million gallons annual, the Pennsylvania wine scene continues to mature with each vintage. What started as a single vineyard planted by the state’s founder, William Penn, in 1683 now includes five AVAs and notable wineries like Galen Glen and Allegro Vineyard. Want to know more? Here’s your primer to Pennsylvania wine.
Tavolo 2016 Lindsay’s Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills); $50, 92 points. Made for a Rhode Island wine bar of the same name, run by Leonard and Sherri Mello, this cross-country collaboration is quite fresh and spicy on the nose, showing aromas of strawberry, dried rose petals and a dusting of thyme and sage. It’s bright and taut on the palate, with pomegranate and raspberry flavors, as well as touches of white pepper and curry. —Matt Kettmann
Lowcountry Agricole; $80, 92 points. This complex, intriguing rum is made 100% from South Carolina sugarcane, then barrel rested for 10 months. The end result is a golden-yellow hue and pungent aroma of banana bread. A long swath of palate-coating waxy honey leads the way, finishing long on touches of agave nectar, banana, nutmeg and cardamom. —K.N.
South Dakota may not be primarily known for wine, but producers like Wilde Prairie Winery in Brandon are worth seeking out. Sioux Falls, a must-visit culinary destination, is a good homebase. Bin 201, the city’s premiere craft wine bar, showcases hard-to-find bottles, and a stop at Monks House of Ale Repute will offer you 150 beers from around the world, 39 rotating taps and housemade beer cheese.
George Dickel Bottled in Bond; $36, 95 points. Look for deep, dark, haunting flavors in this 100-proof Tennessee whiskey, which evolves as water or ice is added to tame the alcohol heat. Burnt caramel and toffee telescope into espresso, black pepper, clove, unsweetened chocolate and a hint of black licorice. Overall, the effect is earthy, woodsy and complex. Best Buy. —K.N.
William Chris 2015 Lost Draw Vineyards Mourvèdre (Texas High Plains); $45, 90 points. Herbal aromas of bay leaves and hops are alluring on the nose of this Texas Mourvèdre. The extremely juicy palate dances on the firm structure of fine-grained tannins. Loads of juicy pomegranate and cranberry flavors have a savory edge, with more herbal tones adding complexity and depth. The finish brings a spicy kick and ripe red cherries. —F.A.
Yippee Ki-Yay Rye Whiskey; $80, 94 points. Historically, this producer sourced its whiskey elsewhere, blending and bottling it at their Utah facility. The 2018 bottling is the first time whiskey made on site by High West is included, one of three straight ryes blended together, finished in barrels that previously held California vermouth and Syrah. The end result is ready to mix into Manhattans, opening with red fruit aromas and a silky palate that offers -cinnamon, oak, vanilla and crème brûlée, with a hint of juicy red fruit emerging on the mouthwatering fade. A splash of water integrates fruit, sweetness and spice. —K.N.
Whistlepig Farmstock Rye Crop No. 002; $73, 90 points. This is a limited-edition blend of straight ryes, including 32% estate-grown Vermont rye aged two years, 45% Indiana rye aged six years and 23% Canada rye, aged 10 years. The golden whiskey has an oaky, spicy scent, with a hint of peach. The bold palate resounds with spice and concentrated vanilla, finishing long and drying. —K.N.
Lightwell Survey 2016 The Weird Ones are Wolves Cabernet Franc (Shenandoah Valley); $30, 90 points. Aromas of red fruit and herbs are energetic on the nose, while flavors of pomegranate, raspberry and rhubarb pop on the palate. Fresh, juicy acidity and a chalky mineral mouthfeel add intrigue and carry the intense flavors on the finish. —Carrie Dykes
Latta 2015 Upland Vineyard Grenache (Snipes Mountain); $45, 93 points. The aromas of this 100% varietal leap up with compelling notes of kirsch, plum, pomegranate, strawberry, white pepper and herb. The palate brings a beautiful sense of texture, layering and richness, followed by a hyper-extended finish. It’s a knee-buckler. Editors’ Choice. —S.S.
Known for its stunning scenery, West Virginia is also home to some exceptional spirits producers. If you find yourself driving through the Mountain State be sure to give yourself enough time to travel the distillery trail. This route will take you to producers like Hatfield & Mccoy Moonshine, Appalachian Distillery and others, giving you a first-hand taste of the state’s spirited drinking scene.
New Glarus Raspberry Tart; $9, 97 points. With over a pound of raspberries in each bottle, this is a powerful and extremely fruit-forward selection. A gorgeous, pristine deep-ruby hue, with a soft pink head is coupled with aromas that hit you immediately upon opening and jump out of the glass once poured. Hints of sweet malt and wild yeast add depth to the crisp and lively palate, with lifting acidity that complements the fresh raspberry flavor and ends long and refreshing on the finish. This is a must-try, pristine fruit beer. —L.B.
Rugged Wyoming isn’t necessarily known for its wine—there are only four wineries in the whole state—but it is getting attention for its spirits. Wyoming Whiskey and WYO Rodeo have you covered on whiskey, as well as gin and vodka from Jackson Hole Still Works and Backwards Distilling Company. Meanwhile, Koltiska Distillery in Sheridan is an heirloom spirit made from a generations-old recipe.