How to Celebrate July 4th Like the Founding Fathers

They don't look like a party crowd, but that's because of the $17,000 bar tab from the night before.

It should surprise no one that America's Founding Fathers knew how to have a good time. They celebrated the signing of the U.S. Constitution with an epic party that resulted in one of history's greatest bar tabs.

The 55 members of the Constitutional Convention imbibed 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, eight bottles of whiskey, 22 bottles of porter, eight bottles of hard cider, 12 bottles of beer and seven bowls of alcoholic punch.

That adds up to more than $17,253 in today's money, with each delegate consuming more than $313 worth of the hard stuff. So if you and your buddies have that much cash lying around, go at it hard.

Like... "old-timey sailors in port" hard.

But maybe you're feeling an economic crunch. If so, you can also choose to emulate just one of the founders of our humble democracy -- if you can keep up.

George Washington

No one took one down and passed it around like the Father of Our Country. Aside from his famous small beer recipe (a low-alcohol version he gave to children and servants), our first president was known for the beers he served guests and dinner attendees.

Washington loved beer so much, he brewed his own, allowed his slaves to brew their own and paid his farm managers with the ingredients necessary to brew their own as well.

He also had to have an extra set of his famous false teeth, lest they get stained by his red wine intake.

Aside from beer and wine, Washington distilled his own whiskey (with the largest still in the country at the time) and had his own eggnog recipe, one that could stun an elephant.

That's not all. In 1778, Washington -- five years before winning American independence -- decided to celebrate independence day with his troops by giving all of them a double ration of rum.

The only time Washington seemed not to enjoy a beverage was the time he drank enough Fish House Punch that he couldn't talk about it in his diary for three full days.

"Someone tell Hooper to shut up about the punch!" - George Washington

John Adams

John Adams, America's second president, didn't begin each day with a coffee. Before he could do anything of the sort, he needed a gill (about a half cup) of hard cider. This isn't the hard cider you're used to swilling from some sort of angry orchard, this was good ol' colonial hard cider, and it packed more of a wallop.

Maybe he should switch to diet cider, because he's starting to look a little "William Howard Taft," if you know what I mean.

While Adams may not have chugged whiskey like Washington, he was known for his stamina. Even at age 40 (at a time when the average life expectancy for an American male was 36), Adams was known for his ability to stay on his feet. One French woman called his ability to ingest all night "barbaric."

Thomas Jefferson

The Declaration of Independence is perhaps one of the finest documents ever written. Thomas Jefferson, who would become our third president, famously wrote the first draft of the living document over the course of a few days. While history teachers might want you to think he wrote it fastidiously from his study at Monticello, Virginia, that would be far from the truth. Jefferson wrote it while downing glasses of madeira wine from his favorite table in Philadelphia's Indian Queen Tavern.

Thomas Jefferson: one of the first people to do most of the group homework assignment.

But his love of hard beverages didn't stop there. He grew to love making wine as much as he loved imbibing. The same goes for beer. Jefferson frequently wrote letters about brewing and winemaking, corresponding with everyone from Parisian experts to his friend James Madison.

When he left the White House, the state stuck him with an $11,000 wine bill -- $200,000 in today's money.

By the time he got back to Monticello, he began brewing beer in earnest. It was said he would brew 15 gallons of beer every two weeks for himself. That also didn't stop his love for wine. In "Thomas Jefferson: A Free Mind," Emily Bosland wrote that Jefferson consumed 1,200 bottles of wine in just two years.

Ethan Allen

The Hero of Ticonderoga was said to be so tough and so drunk that he was allegedly bitten by a rattlesnake after a night of revelry -- and got the rattlesnake drunk. Allen was said to have woken up complaining about "mosquitoes."

His ability to outdo anyone at a bar was intimidating. With a bounty for his arrest in New York, Allen once rode into Albany, downed an entire punchbowl in one go and then dared anyone to stop him from leaving town, just to show that he could. The local sheriff was supposedly too scared to do anything.

Proper quaffing.

Allen and the Green Mountain Boys of Vermont were famed hard partiers, and the ubiquitous colonial cider was not enough to quench their thirst. They created their own cocktail to keep them going as they fought for American Independence. The "Stone Wall" was a mix of hard cider with a shot of rum.

James Madison

America's fourth president was also a big fan of beer. While many politicos in the United States were divided over creating a national bank, Madison was advocating for the creation of a national brewery.

"I, too, like to boogie." - James Madison

He was also known to down a pint of whiskey every day. This may not sound like much after reading about everyone else's consumption habits, but try drinking two full cups of whiskey at work and tell me how easy it is.

Now do it as president of the United States.

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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