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Preview – Bourbon: An American Man’s Drink

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Photography by Patrick Vuong

Shoot, Then Drink. In That Order.

Safety Disclaimer: It goes without saying that firearms and alcohol do not mix. If you choose to drink, do so responsibly and only after you’re done shooting.

In 1964, the government of the United States did something that for once made sense. Congress declared bourbon a “distinctive product of the United States.” If you are a literal reader of the U.S. Constitution like I am, then you can see how I might think that drinking bourbon makes you more American. Historically, bourbon is credited to Kentuckians. Like the Kentucky Long Rifle, bourbon has had a hand in shaping this nation. Those hard men who rode west, gambled on river boats, and fought America’s enemies drank bourbon. They did not drink vodka, or fruity concoctions, like their East Coast counterparts.

As I travel the country for my job, I have been able to see both the growth in popularity of bourbon (much due to the hipster movement) and also the horrible concoctions which trendy bars whip up in order to make some gunless man feel like he should be wearing a plaid shirt and Red Wing boots.

Being a Southern American male, there are two things which I’m pleased to call pastimes and which bring me much joy. One of those things is drinking bourbon. The other is shooting. I am going to give you a primer — a “how to,” if you will — so that you may also come to know the great pleasures of this heavenly ambrosia next time you are relaxing amongst men. In order to enjoy bourbon, you need to have the right gear. And gun guys love gear, so this should not be a problem.

The correct glass makes the difference between a good night and a great night. Nothing looks sillier than pouring a fine bourbon into a plastic cup like a toddler having some milk. A man needs a good bourbon glass, and that glass needs to be a heavy old-fashioned glass or a rocks glass, for those who have never spent time around a bar. The glass needs to have a heavy bottom and thick sides. You’re drinking bourbon, so your glass needs to have some heft. This glass will also prevent your hand from melting the ice so quickly. An old fashioned glass holds between 6 and 10 ounces. I prefer the heavy 10-ounce versions — leaves enough room so I don’t spill over the edges later in the evening. There is no reason to travel without one.

If you choose to use ice, you need to seek out the solid frozen variety. Usually ice from a machine is wet and slick. The walls of the cube are thin, and they melt quickly. You want solid cubes that are hard frozen with an exterior that seems rough. The thicker the cube, the longer it will take to melt. I keep several ice trays of this type of ice for my drinks. Your other option is purchasing the so-called ice rocks. These are soapstone rocks which you chill in the freezer and do not melt. If you do not want your drink watered down, then this is the best thing to use. If you enjoy the ice melting then this is (obviously) a poor choice, and you should stick with good solid ice cubes.

What to Drink
Just because you are new to bourbon does not mean you have to drink any old rotgut. Here are three bourbons that every freedom-loving American should enjoy and be able to find at a well-run liquor emporium.

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