“As American as Apple Pie”, or is it “As American as Baseball”… sometimes I hear people use both, “As American as Apple Pie and Baseball”
No matter how people say it, it’s a bullshit phrase. What we need to be saying is “As American as Bourbon!”
Really, I don’t have anything against apple pie or baseball, I love them both. It’s just that you’d be hard pressed to find anything more American than bourbon.
Baseball was invented in the United States, sure, but it’s become a huge sport in many countries around the world. In fact, it’s a pretty easy argument to say that baseball is more popular in many other countries than it is here.
Apple pie wasn’t even invented in the United States. It was invented in England in 1381.
Bourbon though, that’s something else entirely. It’s no surprise to me that National Bourbon Day is June 14th every year. You know what else June 14th is known for? Flag Day and the birthday of the United States Army (hooah).
You may have heard, “the story of whiskey is the story of the United States.”
Cliffs Notes history – During the Revolutionary War, imports were hard to come by. And of course England cut off our supply of sugar cane and molasses from the Caribbean, meaning we couldn’t distill Rum. Enterprising colonists turned to what we had available…corn, lots and lots of corn. Any corn that wasn’t consumed would rot, so, they took their excess corn and started distilling it into whiskey.
After the United States won the Revolutionary War, do you know the first domestically produced product the new government taxed? Whiskey. Do you know what the reaction was? Three years of increasing hostilities from 1791-1793 followed by an armed rebellion against the United States government in 1794. And yes, it required the activation of the militia.
Being so pissed off about taxes that you take up arms? Yeah, that’s pretty damn American.
As anyone who is likely to read this already knows, bourbon is just an extension of whiskey.
There are many conflicting stories about how we came to call that special type of whiskey “bourbon”, thankfully, I don’t think it really matters. The name isn’t what makes it so classically American. And that special type of whiskey only being able to be labeled bourbon if it’s made in the United States isn’t what makes it so classically American either.
To me, what makes bourbon so classically American is the process it goes through.
Just look at the grains that go into bourbon.
There is rye, a hearty grain that is spicy and bold in flavor, grown in the north central United States. It’s accustomed to harsh northern climates and grown throughout the winter. It is a native grain in the United States, but was also known throughout Europe and Asia.
Barley, a softer grain that is versatile and gives a wide range of flavors from chocolate to toffee to smoky and everywhere between. With its versatility, it can be grown in the winter, or in the summer, and is grown in the north western United States. Again, it is native to the United States, but was also known throughout Europe and Asia.
Wheat, another grain that is soft and versatile. It adds a unique smoothness to whiskey, along with flavors of honey, vanilla, dried berries, and many other flavors. It’s grown in the south central United States. Native to the United States, but was known throughout Europe and Asia.
Finally, the most important grain to bourbon. Corn. A grain that was unknown to the rest of the world prior to 1492. A grain filled with a soft, sweet flavor. Grown throughout the United States in the heat of spring and summer.
These grains, from so many various backgrounds, that thrive in different climates, with so many different characteristics, are ground, mixed together, and given time to meld during fermentation.
Then, the offspring of this marriage of grains is put under heat and pressure as it is distilled. The result of that heat and pressure is steam, which is liquefied by cooling, then filled in oak barrels. Those oak barrels are stored away to allow the whiskey to absorb the characteristics of its surroundings. Years later, when the whiskey has become bourbon, it is removed from the barrels. Each barrel creates its own unique spirit. Some darker than others, some spicier than others, some sweeter, but each unique barrel is perfect in its own way.
Now, how in the world could anything be considered more “American” than that?
So, stop saying “As American as Apple Pie” or “As American as baseball”. Not only stop saying, tell others, they need to fix this and start saying, “As American as Bourbon”. Say it loudly, say it proudly, because after all, we are loud and proud Americans after all.