With Father's Day almost upon us, it's time once again to do something special for dear old dad. If ties and coffee mugs are your standard offerings, though, perhaps you should consider raising the bar. After all, nothing will put Pa in good spirits faster than, well, good spirits; and there is nothing more appealing than savoring them in an intoxicating destination.
Barbadians have been raising cane—sugar cane that is—for close to 400 years, and the resulting rum has long been a coveted commodity. George Washington even had a barrel shipped over for his 1789 inauguration. So a trip to Barbados ranks high on any discerning drinker's to-do list.
Just outside Bridgetown, the Visitor Centre for Mount Gay (the world's oldest rum distillery) offers a quick lesson in the liquor's history and production methods. More importantly, it gives you a chance to stock up on aged rums so flavorful that adding coke or colada mix would be a crime. The $7 fee includes a tasting session in a mocked-up rum shop; however, nothing beats doing research in the real thing. The first of these pint-sized, brightly-painted bars was licensed in back in 1652 and rum shops remain a focal point of island life. Simply pick one, then order dad an 80-proof rum with a side of ice and a water chaser. He'll be "liming" like the locals in no time.
Still water runs deep in Kentucky—especially when the water in that still is limestone-filtered and mixed with corn mash to create "America's Native Spirit." Over 95 percent of the world's bourbon comes from here, and tracking it down is easy along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, which connects eight state distilleries ranging from Jim Beam (the top seller) to Woodford Reserve (a small batch alternative; photo, right).
While all welcome guests, savvy libation lovers have a soft spot for the Maker's Mark Distillery near Loretto. In part that is because the property—dating from the 1800s and now designated as a National Historic Landmark—is so picturesque. But it is also because its bourbon is so good. Dad can watch it being made on free daily tours (old-fashioned grain rollers, 12-foot deep fermentation vats, and bright copper stills are all on display) before buying a bottle of the amber elixir and hand-dipping it himself in the brand's signature sealing wax.
If your father prefers tequila neat to frothy frozen concoctions forget Margaritaville and head instead to Jalisco, Mexico, the beverage's birthplace. Tequila has been this state's claim to fame since pre-Hispanic days when it warranted its own overseeing goddess.
Today big name manufacturers (most notably José Cuervo and Sauza, both based in the city of Tequila) open their doors to modern-day worshippers. There is a Tequila Express, too, which includes a plant tour and ample samples, plus a train trip through Jalisco's blue agave fields. Yet the most civilized way to quench thirst is by booking a stay at CasaMagna Marriott in Puerto Vallarta, the state's tourism capital. The resort grows agave for its own brand of tequila (one of 117 by-the-glass options in CasaMagna' "Tequila Vault"). Moreover, it boasts a certified experto who hosts tasting classes as well as a spa that offers agave-based treatments. Themed packages start at $212 a night.
Photo credit: Flickr member amanderson2