What better way to celebrate our country’s independence this weekend than with Atlanta’s favorite summer pastime: shooting the ‘hooch. For the uninitiated, that means a lazy afternoon floating down the Chattahoochee River in the hot sun sipping drinks you’ve iced down in the floating cooler trailing behind your makeshift “floatilla” city. Ah, America.
We’re breaking down our choices of beverages to sip and floating coolers to consider while staying healthy and hydrated on your voyage down the mighty Chattahoochee.
Pack these essentials before you head to the liquor store for booze and ice:
- Bottled water or La Croix (if you’re fancy)
- Waterproof shoes
- Life jacket–because it’s the law
- Plastic bag for garbage
- Change of clothing
- Waterproof dry bag
Carbo-loading and snacks
Eat a carb-heavy breakfast of bagels, toast or our favorite, the weekends-only cheddar waffles at Little Tart Bakeshop. Loading up on salt, sugars and fruit juices prior to a day on the river will keep those much-needed electrolytes from vacating the body too quickly due to sun-drain and alcohol. To help stave off hunger and soak up the booze, bring heat-tolerant snacks like trail mix, beef jerky and even Publix fried chicken.
Glass is strictly forbidden on the river. Only cans and plastic are allowed. Breaking this rule means being yanked from your floating paradise prematurely by park rangers, a fine and a long walk back to your car. Throw your empties into the plastic garbage bag you’re carrying.
Shooting the ‘hooch requires a durable floating cooler for maximum enjoyment of frosty beverages, including life-giving water. While some choose to wedge their cooler into the well of an inner tube, it’s not the most stable option. This nifty all-in-one can be used on its own or for supporting a standard Igloo. Fill that cooler with plenty of ice to last the day.
You could buy a case of Bud or Miller Lite for your journey, but with Georgia’s ever-expanding list of breweries, celebrate our great state by keeping your river beers local. Look for light, low ABV (alcohol by volume) beers under 5 percent. Most craft breweries have at least one sessionable beer in their lineup.
Wild Heaven Emergency Drinking Beer 4%: Light, crisp pilsner-style with sour components.
Terrapin Watermelon Gose 4.3%: A great choice for those who enjoy a bit of sour and salinity. If you salt your watermelon and like beer, this is your summer sipper.
Creature Comforts Athena 4.5%: Refreshing sour, slightly tart German-style wheat beer.
Terrapin RecreationAle 4.7%: Solid choice for those who enjoy a hoppy pale ale.
Second Self Thai Wheat 5.1%: A notch higher than the recommended ABV yet refreshing and flavorful with a punch of spice.
The above can be found at most grocery stores or local beer shops like Hop City or Stout Brothers in Smyrna, which is located near to a drop-in point. Don’t forget your koozie to prevent can slippage from wet hands. Bring foam from home or invest in a Yeti insulated koozie if you fancy yourself a river sipping pro.
Hop City, 1000 Marietta St. NW, Atlanta. 404-350-9998 and 99 Krog St. NE, Atlanta. 470-355-2534, hopcitybeer.com.
Stout Brothers, 1265 West Spring St., Smyrna. 770-319-8200, thestoutbrothers.com.
With the proliferation of canned wines, you can now enjoy your favorite vintages without plastic cups, tumblers and foldable pouches encroaching on your personal floatation device.
Underwood four-pack: This season’s poolside favorite is quickly becoming the discerning river sipper’s canned vino of choice. Grab a four pack of rose, pinot gris, pinot noir, sparkling or mix it up with a variety pack. Each can contains approximately two glasses of wine.
Sofia Blanc de Blancs mini four-pack: You’ve watched her movies, now you can drink like movie director Sofia Coppola on the river. This sparkling blend contains pinot blanc, riesling and muscat for a light effervescent wine with citrus and melon notes. Each can is equal to one large glass of wine.
You can find these canned varieties and many others in area liquor stores like Tower ,and beer and wine shops like Hop City or 3 Parks, which also sells wine in 32- and 64-ounce plastic growlers. Add a classy red Solo cup, and you’re good to go.
If you really have a hankering for a cocktail, keep it simple and light with a batch of mimosas in a sealable, plastic container. Try grapefruit juice rather than sugary orange juice to make the sparkling wine pop with a hint of tartness.
3 Parks Wine Shop, 880 Glenwood Ave., Atlanta. 678-349-7070, 3parkswine.com.
Tower Wine & Spirits, 2161 Piedmont Road, N.E., Atlanta. 404-881-0902 and 5877 Buford Highway, Doraville. 770-458-3272, towerwinespirits.com.
Hop City, 1000 Marietta St. NW, Atlanta. 404-350-9998 and 99 Krog St. NE, Atlanta. 470- 355-2534, hopcitybeer.com.
Sip water regularly, drink responsibly and follow the rules because the best part of shooting the ‘hooch is not landing in the hospital or getting a hefty fine for being stupid.
Click here for drop in points along the Chattahoochee.