America’s celebration of Independence Day is nothing short of extravagant. From fireworks to sparklers to star-spangled bikinis, America likes its birthdays to be loud and spectacular. And these six Fourth of July cocktails are nothing short of either.
For years, serious cocktailians have eschewed the absurdity of technicolor ingredients, but recently many bartenders have become endeared to the kitschiness of blue Curaçao, an orange liqueur from the Caribbean island of Curaçao—especially when July 4th rolls around. New York City bartender Pamela Wiznitzer uses it to dye her Pisco Sour riff bright cerulean blue, and to create her red-white-and-blue layered Shots and Stripes Forever, a gin sour of sorts. Similarly, Maxwell Britten of Maison Premiere builds his USS Bomber, a flag-colored absinthe-coconut swizzle, using Curaçao and Peychaud’s bitters to create the affect of standing on a ship deck in some tropical port.
Other Old Glory inspired drinks are less about stripes and stars, and more about the idea of American inventiveness. The Spirit of ’76 at Prime Meats is a colonial punch that employs all the favorite spirits of young America—Applejack, Caribbean rum and rye whiskey—and is topped with an ever-patriotic Bicentennial flag toothpick. At Anvil in Houston, The Brave rebelliously defies all concepts of a traditional cocktail with a bitter-spicy mix of mezcal, tequila and amaro served room temperature with a flashy flamed orange peel garnish. Lastly, New York City bartender Damon Boelte’s Americano Perfecto transforms the traditional Italian aperitif by replacing soda water with pilsner beer resulting in a bittersweet shandy.
That’s classic American ingenuity hard at work.