Your Guide to Father's Day Drinking


Maybe you're ahead of the game and already planned an awesome Father's Day meal and scored a great gift for your dad. You picked up the perfect beer and booze to make the day celebratory. Oh, you didn't, yet? No worries. We asked a few expert friends—brewmasters, bartenders, and restaurant beverage directors—for tips on what to drink and what to buy to make Dad's day awesome. See below for their beer, wine, and spirits suggestions, along with gift ideas.

Garrett Oliver (Brewmaster, Brooklyn Brewery)

Say you want to throw the ultimate Father's Day barbecue—what should the beer plan be? If you want to have a proper blow-out barbecue on Father's Day, you'll want more than one beer to work with. I like to have one bright, fruity, summery beer, one darker beer to match the flavors in the barbecue, and one "after-dinner beer" with a bit more complexity. For the bright summery beer, I think Belgian-style wheat beers are perfect; they're light but very flavorful, and can work with everything from spare ribs to salad. Brown ales and amber ales are great with anything that comes off the grill—the caramelized flavors of the beers work well with the flavors of grilled meats and vegetables. After dinner, when you're lazing around, you can go for a "sipping beer" like a strong dark Trappist-style ale—these are great for easing into the evening.

What's the ultimate Father's Day beer-related gift? Of course I'd say that The Oxford Companion to Beer is the perfect beer-related gift! But another idea is to make a plan to home-brew some beer with your dad. Decent brewing kits can be easily found for under $100, so even if you only use it once, it makes for a cool gift. And it's a gift that automatically includes some quality time with your dad, and you never know—you might end up giving your dad a really fun new hobby!

Brian Miller (Bartender, Tiki Mondays at Lani Kai, NY)

[Photograph: Jennifer Hess]

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Say you want to throw the ultimate Father's Day barbecue—what cocktail(s) would you mix up to go alongside it? Well, the first thing you gotta do is figure out what the old man likes and then go from there. My Dad is a gin and scotch drinker primarily but like most men in my family, he'll drink just about anything. I think a good old fashioned Gin & Tonic would be a nice start. Then for a scotch drink I think I'd go for a Rob Roy—a classic that really lets the scotch shine. I'd probably also make an Americano Highball for those that want a little something that's not so boozy but still refreshing. And of course, I'd have some rum around to make daiquiris—like myself, my mom loves the rum.

How should we go about choosing spirits as gifts for Father's Day? Any recent discoveries? Don't believe the hype. Price points, age statements and words like supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, double secret probation premium spirits are ways to separate you from your money rather quickly and leave you feeling cheap like the booze you just bought. You don't have to spend a lot but don't be a cheapskate either.

Recent discoveries? I'm falling in love with some of the Plantation rums recently. I also love everything by Appleton, El Dorado and Santa Teresa. But just about every man I know loves whiskey and the best one out there for price, quality and versatility is Rittenhouse Rye (100 proof). A lot of cocktail enthusiasts have had it already but perhaps your old man hasn't. Buy it, make him a believer.

Laura Maniec (Master Sommelier and Co-founder, Corkbuzz, NY)

What would the perfect Father's day food and wine pairing be for you? I love making pulled pork sandwiches for father's day. Roasting a pork shoulder all night and then adding some mustard, honey and a little touch of sriracha and and serving with a delicious chilled cru Beaujolais. I love Charly Thevenet Regnie Grain and Granit 2009.

What bottle would you give as a Father's Day gift, and how would you choose it? I think it would be nice to choose a bottle of wine for your father's day gift from a region or country that his father was from if possible. Although my dad's father was from Poland so I guess I would have to pick a Zubrowka (Bison grass vodka). Or else, choose a wine region that your dad has never been to on vacation and write him a nice card that says why the wine region is so beautiful and how you hope to take him there one day for a visit. I would give my dad Occhipinti SP68 Rouge (Frappato and Nero D'Avola) and tell him all about how beautiful Sicily is.

Paul Kavulak (President, Nebraska Brewing)

How should beer be chosen for Father's Day? Father's Day is about spending time with the family, tossing the Frisbee around, music playing, and the smell of smoke from the BBQ. I would reach for a session beer such as Victory Prima Pils—which really stinks considering I can't get it here in Nebraska.

Do you think beer makes a good Father's Day gift? Dads will slot you into Favorite Child position for simply making a 6 pack appear. It gets a bit more difficult when you work harder to tune into Dad's mood for the day. Is he hangin' by the tube or lounging outside? Maybe a bit larger beer for the indoors vs. a little activity. That said, I'd sure love to score something I've never had before.

Pascaline Lepeltier (Wine Director at Rouge Tomate, NY)

Father's Day is a good day for grilling—what wines do you like to pour with grilled steak? Grilling and meat = grilled and charred, caramelized flavors, spicy sauce, a little bit of salty, delicious fat, and highly aromatic you need a medium-to-bold red with a touch of grippy tannins and some ripe berries with almost a savory, peppery barbecue sauce finish. The best and safest choice is to go with a grenache based wine, with a touch of more tannic grapes (like syrah or mourvedre) or with some vintage old-vine zinfandel—in both cases to have a nice richness and sweetness without being too tannic. If you're more adventurous you could choose some Italian aglianico or some monastrel from the Jumilla area of Spain.


[Photograph: Sydney Oland]

What about lobster? Lobster is briny...the way you will prepare and serve it will make a difference. If it is grilled and served warm with a creamy sauce or some butter, a rich sparkling wine or a light lager or wheat beer. You don't have to go with Champagne; enjoy some Cremant du Jura (same grapes, but cheaper, and as delicious as many Champagnes), or some methode ancestrale bubbles from the Loire or southwest France (such as Mauzac Nature by Plageoles). If you enjoy the lobster cold or raw, pick something with a little more acidity (without being lean)—muscadet will always work, but assyrtiko will do and txakolina's great!

Thanks, Pascaline! What drinks would you give as a Father's Day gift? A bottle of wine? Or something else? I always like to suggest spirits—if your father enjoys them, of course—because this gift will last more than one day! Your father can sip from time to time, sharing with friends, really having a experience with it. Plus, you can help him build a collection and make him discover new spirits—armagnac, cognac, rare edition of whisky, a new small US distillery...

Garrett W. Marrero (Owner, Maui Brewing Company)

What styles of beer do you like to serve with grilled food? Double IPA, Rauchbier...a big hoppy IPA with the spicy sweet twang of a good BBQ sauce is awesome. Then some good smoked or grilled meats paired with a nice smoky Rauchbier to match.

What's the ultimate Father's Day beer-related gift? If he doesn't have one already, a kegerator.

Mike Reis (Co-Director of Beer at Monk's Kettle, San Francisco)


[Photograph: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

What would the perfect Father's day food and beer pairing be? Father's Day seems to be as much a celebration of testosterone as patriarchy, so stick to the manliest pairing imaginable. Throw the meanest, marbliest ribeye you can find on the grill and break out a robust porter or stout. I'd recommend Ninkasi's Oatis Oatmeal Stout, an especially hefty and roasty example of the style, or Firestone's Walker's Reserve Porter. Both beers have the intensity to match a cut of fatty beef, and the roasted malt flavors in each beer will mimic the char caused by meat on grill.

What beer would you give as a Father's Day gift? A father's day gift of beer should ooze class. This is the man that raised you, and with most expensive beers typically not exceeding 30 bucks, you can afford the good stuff. Buy him something he wouldn't spring for himself. A cork and cage or wax-finished bottle is always a classy touch, and if you can involve sentimentality in any way, do so. Find a brewery local to your favorite fishing hole or childhood home town. If that doesn't work, look for something truly unique: Birra Baladin makes a still, intentionally oxidized barleywine known as Xyauyu which is available in three versions (copper, silver and gold), each indicating a level of oxidation. Meant to be sipped and savored, these beers make for a very cool gift and conversation piece. Priced around $45 per 500ml bottle, it isn't cheap, but it is definitely something special. Because it is still and already oxidized, it can be resealed and drunk over time.

David Flaherty (Operations/Bar Manager, Hearth/Terroir, NY)


Burnt ends from John Brown's Smokehouse in Long Island City, Queens [Photograph: James Boo]

What would the perfect Father's day food and beer pairing be? I'm a new father, so I'm gonna need to pull all the stops. I'd like a massive rack of ribs from John Brown's Smokehouse and a 750 mL bottle of Odell's Bourbon Barrel Stout (or two) to give homage to Fort Collins, CO, where I spent my childhood. But it's most important that it is served properly: mainly that I'm left alone in an air-conditioned room with a live, 9-piece bluegrass band, a large plastic bib around my neck and my beer served in a Tiffany crystal beer mug. Sloth-mode can then ensue. I will slowly work my way through the stout and ribs, only pausing to occasionally clap my hands, stomp my feet and then be left alone to nap in a bbq-slathered stupor. Aahhh....fatherhood.

Joshua Nadel (Beverage Director at The Dutch, NY and Miami)

What's the ideal Father's Day wine pairing? For me, Father's Day evokes time with family as summer hits it's early stride. It makes me think of lighter reds and luscious, aromatic whites. Not the lean and mean kind we drink in the dog-days of August, but those with a gentler texture.

One light bodied red which fits the bill is an esoteric guy from Catalonia [in Spain] from Josep Foraster: his 2010 Trepat. Trepat is a varietal normally used in the production of Cava, and is very rarely found as a still varietal wine. It's low in tannin, moderate in acidity, and is packed with high toned, clean red fruits and cracked black pepper spice. Father's Day meals often mean large groups dining on many types of food at once, so this works for everything from seafood to game, though some may find it too light bodied if they are into Cabernet or big New World wines. It's also a modest wine, so no need to be shy in filling the glasses.

Fill 'em up! We like it. What about wine for a Father's Day gift? I like those with a true family tradition, wines steeped in father/son and family traditions. Jean Louis and Gerard Chave are the current son/father team at their estate in the Northern Rhone, which has been making wine since 1482. Though the wines can be tough to find, they are fantastic, and Jean Louis has begun making some more affordable and accessible wines in the past decade, which are more readily available. (Look for their St. Joseph Blanc and Rouge, Cotes du Rhone). If you want to spoil dad rotten, get him a bottle of Chave Hermitage Rouge or Blanc...but be warned...that's a tough act to follow!

Dave Thibodeau (Co-Founder, Ska Brewing)

Say you want to throw the ultimate Father's Day barbecue—what beer would you pour and why? I'm a long-time vegetarian, so I might not fit the mold here, but I'm a frequent griller of vegetables, particularly this time of year! The great thing about grilling vegetables are the variety of colors and flavors. I like a similar assortment of lighter but colorful beers. I'm talking Latin-influenced American craft lagers. There are some great breweries focusing on this now, most notably Del Norte in Denver, CO and 5 Rabbit in Chicago—and of course we brew our Mexican Logger as our summer seasonal each year. It's my go-to barbecue beer! Heavier, meatier vegetables like portabellas are great with a slightly darker beers like Del Norte's Manana Oscura.

How should we go about choosing beer gifts for Father's Day? The way to go about it is to track down some beers not available to Dad every day. Drive across your state's border with a cooler full of ice and pick up an assortment, and I don't just mean one or two special bottles—grab a case so he can share them with family and friends!

About the Author: Maggie Hoffman is the editor of Serious Eats: Drinks. You can follow her on Twitter @maggiejane.