For most Americans, there’s nothing noteworthy about the third Monday in April. For New Englanders and sports enthusiasts, it’s the day on which the Boston Marathon is (usually) run, and the Red Sox (again, usually) have a day game scheduled at Fenway Park. Apart from that, Patriots Day (which has nothing to do with the much-beloved football team of the same name) doesn’t get a whole lot of play. Which is a shame, because it commemorates the first battles of what would become the American Revolution (Lexington, Concord and the lesser known battle of Menotomy), which were fought on April 19, 1775. Regardless of what you think of the current state of the union, throwing off the shackles of British oppression and taking the initial steps toward independence was a certifiably big deal. So many New Englanders get the day off, but you can toast them even if you’re not among them.
There are few better ways to mark the occasion than by drinking some made-in-New England spirits. When the pilgrams first landed in what is now Plymouth, Mass., the first thing they did was build a brewery (they were used to some very unsafe drinking water back home, so ale was the safer beverage of choice). During the Revolution, homegrown hooch fortified American soldiers for their fight against the redcoats. A couple of centuries later, New England distillers are in the thick of a full craft spirits revolution, making everything from vodka to mead and winning new fans both in their home states and beyond. Here are a few of our Patriots’ Day faves.