Drinking like George Washington – reasons to visit historic Mount Vernon this holiday weekend

george washingtonIf there’s drinking involved, there’s a good chance that a we’re all over it. When the chance to combine drinking (rare liquors), history, and a holiday weekend arises …. well, we’re even more intrigued.

In honor of the country’s most patriotic holiday, Mount Vernon is displaying a rare 18th century letter penned by the first President and country’s most famous distiller, George Washington, at the George Washington Distillery at Mount Vernon in honor of the July 4th holiday weekend. The public display coincides with the release of a limited George Washington Rye Whiskey produced at the distillery and based on the founding father’s recipe.

Just prior to his death in 1799, Washington wrote the letter to his nephew, Colonel William A. Washington, a noted cavalry commander during the Revolution. In the letter, Washington stated “the demand…is brisk” for his locally produced Rye Whiskey.

As part of Mount Vernon’s July 4th festivities, 400 bottles of the limited edition 18th century style George Washington Rye Whiskey will be available for purchase starting at 10 a.m. at Mount Vernon’s main gift shop and at the Distillery site, located three miles from the estate. Visit on the Fourth and you’ll find patriotic events including a naturalization ceremony, daytime fireworks and military drills – it’s a great reason to bring the entire family.

The limited edition run was produced in the reconstructed distillery according to the General’s own grain recipe discovered by historians in the mansion’s extensive records. Each 375 ml bottle will retail for $95 and must be purchased in person.

If you’re near the area and like whiskey, this sounds like a great opportunity.

Groundbreaking held for George Washington’s presidential library at Mount Vernon

George Washington's presidential library groundbreaking, courtesy of PR NewswireOur first president is finally getting his own library. The building, to be located on the grounds of his historic Mount Vernon estate, a short drive from DC, will open in 2013.

Destined to be a George Washington “think tank,” the 45,000 square foot National Library is expected cost $47 million.

The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington will be located on a 15 acre site within walking distance of Washington’s home. It will house more than 15,000 items including 2,500 rare 18th and 19th century books, 87 books that were owned by Washington, and 500 letters, ledgers, and account books that bear George Washington’s writing or signature

“We expect to create the world’s intellectual headquarters for everything to do with George Washington,” said Mount Vernon’s president, James Rees. “By encouraging new research, aggressively reaching out to families across the nation, and hosting conferences that stress Washington’s leadership as the gold standard, we hope to touch the hearts and minds of each new generation.”

A modest residence for visiting scholars, authors and interns will be constructed next to the National Library.

The larger education wing on the east side will provide spaces for seminars, lectures and training programs on George Washington’s life, times and remarkable leadership. Offices in the west wing and on the second floor will supply work spaces for visiting scholars and staff members.

A picturesque drive to the southern end of the scenic George Washington Memorial Parkway, Mount Vernon is located just 16 miles from the nation’s capital. The early spring is a pleasant time to visit Washington’s home, as the weather is often warm enough to stroll about the extensive grounds.

Turkey with presidential pardon not going to Disneyland

Pardoned turkey at DisneylandEach year just before Thanksgiving, the president pardons a turkey in a ceremony at the White House, saving that turkey from its likely fate atop a dining table. But this year, that turkey is not going to Disneyland.

Disney started flying the pardoned turkeys to California in 2005, when Disneyland was celebrating its 50th anniversary. The turkey has served as grand marshal of the the Disneyland Thanksgiving Day Parade (“The Happiest Turkey on Earth”) each year since, except for 2007, when the bird went to Walt Disney World instead.

Disney officials told the Orange County Register that this year, the lucky bird just doesn’t fit into its theme parks’ new promotion, “Let the Memories Begin.”

So the turkey that President Obama pardons this Wednesday will live out its life at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, rather than Mickey Mouse’s house.

Three previously pardoned turkeys still live in a coop at Disneyland’s Big Thunder Ranch petting zoo.

[Image credit: Flickr user Myrna Litt]

See how the presidents live away from home

There’s more to the presidency than the White House. From Camp David to presidential libraries across the country, there are plenty of portals into the lives of those who have held the most powerful office in the world. In fact, the real insights may come not from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue but from these other homes. A recent article on CNN offers five prime locations.

Lincoln’s Birthplace: Run by the National Park Service, you can soak in the spirit of our 16th president through exhibits and walking tours. You can even explore a replica of Lincoln’s birth cabin.

Reagan Library: Start at the 40th president’s final resting place, in Simi Valley, CA. In addition to holding President Reagan’s official documents, you can peek into his history, including his college letter sweater and memorabilia from his earlier career in Hollywood.

Mount Vernon: Our first president, George Washington, spent most of his adult life on this estate, which has been open to the public since 1860. Since then, nearly 80 million visitors have passed through. Go on Presidents’ Day, and admission is free.

Hermitage: Stroll through President Andrew Jackson‘s mansion, enjoy the gardens and even enjoy the original log cabin where he lived for a bit with his family. See a piece of “Old Hickory” that rarely makes it into the public eye.

Check out a video of Lincoln’s Birthplace following an ice storm after the jump.

[Via CNN]