The Buzz

Make it a Double

Ralph Benko, writing on a website called "Parcbench," offers a headline that reads: "Wake Up Libertarians, A Government Sometimes Gets it Right!" His case in point is the government of Alabama, whose legislature passed a law in 2004 officially designating the state drink to be…whiskey. And not just any whiskey, but specifically, "Clyde May’s Conecuh Ridge Alabama Fine Whiskey."

Benko explains that Clyde May was a moonshiner in the grand old days who had fashioned a fine recipe for a special nectar, aged in charred barrels with a bit of dried apple. When he died his son Kenny kept the tradition alive, getting around Alabama legal prohibitions by trucking Conecuh Ridge spring water to Kentucky, where it was used in the distillery process and then returned. When the legislature designated this product as the state’s official drink, the governor promptly vetoed the measure as being frivolous and perhaps even beneath contempt. But both houses promptly rose to the occasion by overriding the veto.

This demonstrated a certain fortitude on the part of the legislature. But Benko believes it also showed a level of "integrity" not seen in some of the other 29 states that have official drinks. Many have taken the abjectly safe approach of hailing cow’s milk as their official drink. Nebraska went for Kool-Aid, but hedged by adding a second official state drink—milk. As far as can be determined, no state has designated Ovaltine.

Besides Alabama, Benko issued a word of respect for Indiana: "One almost weeps with joy at the pure aptness of Indiana’s judgment in choosing…water. (Anything else potentially would have been dangerously controversial to the excruciatingly polite Hoosier.)"

But Benko reserves his highest enthusiasm for Alabama. As he buoyantly puts it, "Let’s raise a toast to the memory of Clyde May, his loyal son Kenny, and to Rep. Alan Boothe who showed the vision and statesmanship, to sponsor the resolution declaring Conecuh Ridge Alabama Fine Whiskey to be the official drink of the great state of Alabama. Barkeep? Make it a double."

This is perceptive and wise commentary, smart in every way.