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History Happy Hour

Libation Education Series

The Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation is postponing its “History Happy Hour” webcasts originally scheduled for June 4 and June 11, following recent technical issues with webcast platforms. New dates will be announced.

Join Director of Curatorial Services Luke Pecoraro for historical adventures in distillation and brewing with virtual happy hours each Thursday at 5 p.m. through June 18. Raise a glass to the past with a list of suggested bottles and classic cocktail recipes provided prior to each week’s session so you can come ready to participate in a live taste test of the libations discussed.

As part of the virtual History Happy Hour series, we’re proud to partner with the Virginia Beer Company, Billsburg Brewery and Williamsburg Winery for upcoming interactive webcasts, with a portion of proceeds from designated purchases in connection with each program supporting the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Inc.

Beer Brewing in Colonial America

This “History Happy Hour” program originally scheduled for June 4 has been postponed. A new date will be announced.

Join Robby Willey from the Virginia Beer Company and Austin Shawinsky from Billsburg Brewery as we examine archaeological evidence of brewing at Jamestown and during the American Revolution and see drinking vessels from the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation’s collection. Grab a own mug and enjoy George Washington’s small beer recipe and Martha Washington’s unique persimmon beer, plus choose your own brew from our local partners – with a portion of proceeds from designated purchases supporting the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Inc.

Pair this program with recommendations from the Virginia Beer Company:
○ Elbow Patches Oatmeal Stout
○ Free Verse IPA
○ Liquid Escape Tart Ale
○ Saving Daylight Citrus Wheat

Pair this program with recommendations from the Billsburg Brewery:
○ Classic Lager
○ Fly Away IPA
○ Planet 4 Red Ale

Wine on the Vine

This “History Happy Hour” program originally scheduled for June 11 has been postponed. A new date will be announced.

Join Williamsburg Winery winemaker Matthew Meyer for a tasting at the start of the program, as we discover what wines were available in the American colonies – from what was shipped and ordered from abroad to those made locally – and Jefferson’s contributions to Virginia viticulture. This session pairs nicely with a a port, Madiera or Virginia wine from our local partner – with a portion of proceeds from designated purchases supporting the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Inc.

Pair this program with recommendations from the Williamsburg Winery:
○ Acte 12 of 1619 Chardonnay
○ Wessex Hundred Dry Rosé
○ Barrel Aged Virginia Claret

Thursday, June 18 at 5 p.m.
Whiskey in America: Education and Libation

See one of  the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown’s newest acquisitions – a rare, 100-gallon capacity, stamped copper still. Made by either Francis Sanderson Sr (in production: 1763-1783) or his son, Francis Sanderson Jr (in production: 1793-1820), the biographical details of these coppersmiths are illustrative of the spirit behind the American Revolution and the early Republic. Participate in a brief introduction to distilled products made in colonial America, combined with biographical information on our museum’s still and archaeological record of the Washington distillery.

To learn the proper way to taste whiskey, have one or all of the following options on hand:
○ Bulleit Rye Whiskey (Shelbyville, KY) – 19.99 (350 ml)
○ Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey (Clermont, KY) – 24.99 (750ml)
○ Bowman Brothers Straight Virginia Bourbon Whiskey (Fredericksburg, VA) – 29.99 (750ml)
○ Maker’s Mark ‘46’ (Loretto, KY) – 21.99 (350ml)
○ Elijah Craig 1789 Small Batch Bourbon (Bardstown, KY) – 15.99 (375ml)

For those who prefer to taste their whiskey mixed, try a Toddy or Old Fashioned:

Toddy (hot): The first use of the word cocktail appears in a New York newspaper in 1806, and prior to this date while spirits were mixed, they were simple in nature and varied wildly based upon what was regionally at hand. The terms “skin”, “sling”, and “toddy” referred to a drink mixed with other ingredients in the 18th century, with toddy as the most prevalent of the three. The simple recipe below is a faithful representation of what American colonists would have known, and while it can be consumed hot or cold, and the base derived from any pot-stilled whiskey, I suggest serving this hot with the Bowman Brothers Virginia Bourbon.
○ 3 oz pot-stilled liquor (Bowman Brothers)
○ 2 oz boiling water
○ Pinch of brown sugar
○ Fresh grated nutmeg
○ Warm a mug with hot water, then discard. Add the sugar to the mug, then a splash of near-boiling water. Muddle these together until combined, then add the remaining water and spirits. Mix together, then top with fresh grated nutmeg.

Old Fashioned (cold): As the name may suggest, the background of this early cocktail lies with its “ancient” consumption and simple ingredients. While the jury is still out on where this cocktail was first served and perfected, the composition is strikingly similar to the toddy of the 18th century. The recipe I use comes from the first edition (1935) Old Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s GuideThis was the first recipe book published after Prohibition, is still published, with the current guide being the 87th edition. Like the toddy, any rye or bourbon can be used, but I suggest Old Overholt Rye Whiskey.
○ 2 oz whiskey (Old Overholt)
○ 1/2 oz simple syrup
○ 2-3 dashes of bitters
○ Splash of fizzy water (I substitute cherry juice)
○ Muddle the simple syrup, bitters, and fizzy water well, then add 2 oz of whiskey. Add one large  cube of ice. Stir very well and decorate with a slice of orange, twist of lemon peel, and a brandy-soaked cherry. Serve in a tumbler.

View Past Videos of History Happy Hour

Not able to watch live? Programs are recorded and made available for viewing following the live webcast.


Explore the material culture of punch drawn from the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation’s collection while you learn about Caribbean sugar and rum production, and the run-up to the American Revolution.

Pair this program with an 18th-century Fish House Punch or alcohol-free punch appropriate for the kids:

Fish House Punch: This recipe traces its origins to 1732 with the founding of the exclusive Schuylkill Fishing Club near Philadelphia. Club members consumed this potent drink at gatherings, and George Washington among others are said to have tried the famous punch. As we social distance, the recipe included is a single serving, but it’s great fun to mix an entire bowl for a group as we are able again!
○ Ice
○ 3/4 oz dark rum (you can use the Gosling’s from the week before, or Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum)
○ 3/4 oz cognac
○ 3/4 oz peach brandy
○ 1/2 oz simple syrup
○ 1/4 oz fresh lime juice
○ 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
○ 1 lime slice
○ 1 maraschino cherry
○ Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the lime slice and cherry. Shake well; strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with the lime slice and cherry.

Non-Alcoholic Planter’s Punch
○ Ice
○ 2 oz apple juice
○ 3/4 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
○ 1/4 oz grenadine syrup
○ In a Collins glass, mix the first three ingredients, then top up with lemon lime soda.

A Journey to the Summer Isles

Featuring a bit of history on Bermuda and an important new acquisition at Jamestown Settlement, see how it all links to Virginia in this session. A highlight of the program will feature a look at a rare 1627 edition of Captain John Smith’s “The Generall Historie of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles,” first published in 1624 and reprinted five times by 1632 as a result of its popularity.

Pair this program with a Dark n’ Stormy cocktail.
○ 2 oz Gosling’s Bermuda Black Rum
○ 3 oz ginger beer (I suggest Goya Jamaican style Ginger Beer, or Barritt’s Bermuda Ginger Beer)
○ Lime wedge (s)
○ In a highball glass, add several cubes of ice and one or two wedges of lime. Pour in the ginger beer first, then slowly add the rum.