Once a movement reaches critical mass, it simply can't be ignored -- after the March on Washington, everyone knew civil rights were here to stay, and after Pearl Jam's congressional testimony against Ticketmaster, everyone knew oppressive surcharges were gone forever. Hooray Pearl Jam! Now, the Yes We Can of the drinking man, the Independent Spirits Expo, June 24
Now in its 3rd incarnation, the ISX has gone from three, to 19, to 30+ fledgling brands that, despite years of slavish toil, are still marketing themselves through "dude, you gotta try this". The deal: grab a ticket and enjoy 3hrs of obscurely exotic open bar, during which you'll knock back mezcal containing an FDA-approved scorpion, whiskey borne of a barn fire, and more
Templeton Rye, Templeton, Iowa
In production for the first time since Prohibition, this small batch was originally illegally crafted in the 1920s, when its smoothness earned it the nickname "The Good Stuff"; its success earned it distribution from Capone himself, who later reputedly had batches smuggled into Alcatraz -- presumably by Sean Connery, because who else knows the timing of the boiler fires?
Death's Door Spirits, Washington Island, WI
Founded three short years ago to peddle wheat vodka, juniper-heavy gin, and white whiskey, DD's named after a strait linking Lake Michigan and Green Bay where the Potawatomi tribe fell prey to a sneak attack from the Winnebago -- who rained down destruction from a nearby cliff, and then drove off with their children's inheritance
American Fruits Distillery, Warwick, NY
Founded as a vineyard in 1989, the AFD is the Hudson Valley's besotted fruit-scientist, having created apple and pear brandies, black currant and sour cherry cordials, grappa grape brandy, and apple liqueur that's been bourbon-barrel aged, just like you.
The price for all this swilling is $50, but you can get your ticket for $25 with the promo code THRILLIST. If only Eddie Vedder had known about promo codes, millions more Americans could have caught the Binaural 2000 tour without their finances forcing them to Yield.