In the summer of 2014, I became a United States citizen, which I consider the greatest accomplishment of my life. Believe me, it wasn’t easy: Everything was under scrutiny. The path to citizenship is a years–long process that first requires you to become a permanent resident. And that involves multiple interviews, biometric tests, a medical exam, and the constant inspection of employment and tax records. Ironically enough, the easiest part of it all was the actual citizenship exam and English proficiency test.
And so every year since, I have celebrated the day I was sworn in—what I now call my “American birthday.”
I also love the way this country celebrates its own birthday every July Fourth, but then again what’s not to like about a festivity that includes hot dogs, corn on the cob, and some fireworks? And when I raise a glass to toast Independence Day, I like to enjoy some all-American cocktails—particularly those that turn waves of grain into amber liquid. (And really just because American-made spirits are just superb.)
Here are 13 patriotic potions—one for each of the 13 original colonies.
The Best All-American Cocktails to Serve This July 4th Weekend
“The Cold Fashioned is a great cocktail to celebrate Fourth of July as it uses two of America’s oldest and favorite drinks—American whiskey and coffee. Americans have a long history with coffee. It has been a valuable commodity since the Boston Tea Party, when a large majority of Americans decided to forego the tea tax imposed by Britain by consuming coffee instead. All the wars we’ve been a part of since the Civil War have only enhanced coffee consumption in the states, as not only a great source of energy through caffeine, but an easy way to ensure one was hydrating without the threat of unsanitary water conditions. Whiskey has been around since the colonial days as well, with many of our founding fathers owning stills. American Whiskey such as Bourbon, Rye, and Tennessee Whiskey is consumed around the world and has become distinctly American in their unique taste profiles. So, just as I did for Juneteenth, I’ll be celebrating this July Fourth with a few Cold Fashioneds. The Cold Fashioned is easy to make at home, as its equal parts recipe is a no brainer.” —Stephen Kurpinsky, U.S. brand ambassador at Mr Black Coffee Liqueur
1 oz. American whiskey of your choice
1 oz. Mr Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur
2 dashes of orange bitters
Method: Stir and serve on the rocks. Garnish with an orange slice or peel
“I think the Basil Hayden’s Whiskey Smash is the perfect cocktail choice for the Fourth of July holiday. This has actually been my go-to cocktail while sheltering in place because it’s bright, fresh, and really versatile! A Smash is an open-ended cocktail—but typically involves muddled fruit and herbs. This recipe, using lemon and mint, is one of the most traditional (and delicious). But you can substitute almost any citrus or herb you have around the house! Grapefruit and basil—or orange and rosemary—are some of my other favorite options. Basil Hayden’s works so well with this cocktail because it’s also so versatile. It has the really unique combination of being a high rye bourbon, which allows it to stand out in a mixed drink, but is also light-bodied enough that it plays nicely with so many different flavors! It’s that rare bourbon that is perfect to both drink on its own or to put into cocktails—especially one as bright and refreshing as the Whiskey Smash!” —Amy Probasco, cocktail consultant, Beam Suntory
2 parts Basil Hayden’s bourbon
¾ part simple syrup
1 half lemon, cut into quarters
6 mint leaves
Method: Muddle lemon, mint and simple syrup in a shaker without ice. Add Basil Hayden’s and ice. Shake to combine. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with a mint sprig and lemon wheel.
“This Longbranch cocktail is smooth with subtle hints of smoky sweetness—and the mesquite automatically pairs well with traditional barbecue fare. Many people think of a stiff drink when they think of bourbon, but Longbranch can be used in a variety of drinks, and will quickly become your summer cocktail staple.” —Eddie Russell, master distiller at Wild Turkey
1.5 parts Longbranch
1 part grapefruit juice
0.5 part Campari
0.25 part simple syrup
3 raspberries, for garnish
Method: Add all ingredients into shaker with ice. Shake and double strain into coupe glass. Garnish with lemon peel.
“I feel compelled to raise a glass to those on the frontlines and the back, on the streets and in the hospitals, fighting all those invisible evils (viral, systemic, and personal) that now feel egregious and impossible to ignore. The Clermont Collins is the glass in question. Bright, bubbly and vegetal, all of its ingredients are easily sourced—and the drink is pretty simple to put together. Knob Creek Rye is beautifully soft with a hint of rye spiciness and it plays off the dill and the cucumber in a really interesting way. It is well balanced and perfect for a hot day. My hope is that these moments spent with each other can bring a little ease to the undeniable weight of the world right now. And therein lies the enduring beauty of a drink: more often than not, we drink them with other people. They help to facilitate community and conversation.” —Ali Martin, head bartender, The Up & Up, New York City
2 parts Knob Creek Rye
¾ part lemon juice
½ part simple syrup
4 cucumber slices
Healthy pile of dill
Method: In a tin, muddle the cucumber, dill, and simple syrup. Then add all other liquid (except seltzer). Shake and fine-strain into a Collins glass. Add ice and top with seltzer. Garnish with a sprig of dill or a cucumber slice. Grind fresh pepper on top.
BARTENDER IN PARADISE
“The Bartender in Paradise represents the feeling I had when I first visited the Woodford Reserve distillery in Louisville, Kentucky. I was blown away with the natural beauty of Kentucky. The beautiful rolling hills, the picturesque homes with their beautiful wraparound porches and the horses. Oh my goodness, the horses! It was a spectacle and I will never forget. The ingredients are representative of the soft, fruit-driven flavors that are compatible with the bourbon, especially in a sour-type of cocktail.” —Tyler Rothenberg, bartender at Handcraft Kitchen and Cocktails, Charleston, SC
2 oz. Woodford Reserve Bourbon
1 oz. Lillet Rosé
0.5 oz. parts simple syrup
0.75 oz. fresh blood orange juice
Topo Chico, to top
Blood orange wheel, for garnish
Strawberry, for garnish
4 pineapple fronds, for garnish
Method: Build in shaker tin. Add all ingredients except Topo Chico. Shake for about 12 seconds or until drink is properly chilled and diluted. Fill a Collins glass with fresh ice and pour over. Leave space to top with Topo Chico. Garnish by cutting a slit into a whole strawberry and place on rim. Add 2 pineapple fronds on either side of the strawberry. Cut a blood orange wheel in half and pin to one pineapple frond. Serve with a straw.
“Nothing says summer more than mint and blackberries—and the Black-Eyed Rye highlights both. Add a bit of ginger beer effervescence and a touch of spice from Sagamore rye, and you’ve got a perfect back porch cocktail.” —Rachel Fontana, director of strategic communications at Sagamore Spirit
1.5 oz. Sagamore Spirit Rye Whiskey
3 oz. ginger beer
0.5 oz. lime juice
0.75 oz. blackberry simple syrup
8–10 mint leaves
For the Blackberry Simple Syrup: Mix equal parts water, sugar, and blackberries in a pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
Method: Shake Sagamore rye, lime juice, blackberry simple syrup, and a few mint leaves with ice and strain into a Collins glass. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with mint sprigs and three skewered blackberries. Chill overnight and strain. Need a quick fix? Muddle blackberries with pre-made simple syrup.
“What could be more American than serving up a cocktail made with quality spirits from around the globe, this amped up whiskey cocktail is our play on an international Manhattan, the Yankee Doodle of drinks!” —Kenneth McCoy, chief creative officer at The Rum House, New York City
1.5 oz Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon
0.5 oz Ramazzotti Amaro
0.5 oz Punt E Mes vermouth
1 dash Peychaud’s bitters
1 rinse Ancho Reyes Verde
Method: Stir; rinse a chilled rocks glass with Ancho Verde; pour. Served on the rocks with an orange twist. Garnish with an orange twist.
“Our family has a long legacy of farming in the Northern Nevada region that dates back to 1854 and we are proud to be the state’s first and only whiskey producer to grow 100% of its grain on site. The Ranch Hand cocktail, made with our Frey Ranch Straight Bourbon, is one of our personal favorites to enjoy on our patio in the summer after a long day. It’s the ideal cocktail for Fourth of July this year, as it is easy to make and to enjoy with small groups of family and friends at home (safely), as it is made with readily available ingredients (lemon, honey, and bitters). While we prefer to use the honey made on our ranch, any honey would work well! Our straight bourbon makes up the base and is a hundred percent sustainably grown, malted, distilled, matured, and bottled on our farm in Fallon, Nevada—and we’re pleased to be able to produce a whiskey that embodies our family’s passion for farming and pride for our home state of Nevada.” —Colby Frey and Ashley Frey, cofounders of Frey Ranch and self-described “whiskey farmers”
1.5 oz. Frey Ranch Bourbon
0.75 oz. fresh lemon juice
0.5 oz. honey syrup (2:1)
Dash of aromatic bitters
Method: Build all ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a chilled rocks glass garnished with fresh lemon peel.
“The Clara Bow is inspired by the New York Sour, an early twentieth-century cocktail that features a float of red or port wine on top of a classic Whiskey Sour. I developed this cocktail alongside bartender Jim Kearns as an evocation of the speakeasies of the Prohibition era—a pivotal period in America’s history when it comes to spirits and cocktails, back when bartenders resorted to using a combination of whatever sweeteners were on hand to mask the taste of spirits with questionable quality.” —Lynnette Marrero, co-beverage director at Wonderbar, Beacon, New York
½ oz. Grenadine
½ oz. St. Germain elderflower liqueur
¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
1 ½ oz. bourbon
5–6 mint leaves
Method: Combine all cocktail ingredients except for the mint sprig in a shaker. Add 4–5 ice cubes and shake vigorously. Using a Hawthorne strainer and a fine-mesh strainer, pour the contents into a coupe glass. Garnish with mint sprig.
WESTLAND STATESIDE MANHATTAN
“The opportunity to celebrate the Fourth of July always takes on extra meaning for me with my work at Westland Distillery. Our work in creating a truly authentic style of single malt whiskey in the Pacific Northwest gives me all the reason in the world to take a minute and reflect on the development of an entirely new category of whiskey: American Single Malt, which is something we’ve been doing since 2010. While single malt might be something people associate with Scotland, we’re proud to be providing a unique American voice to the world of single malt whiskey. I’ve always been a fan of the simple cocktail and our signature Stateside Manhattan is just perfect for the holiday. Westland American Oak Single Malt makes up the base and it has these incredible dark chocolate and coffee notes from our use of roasted malts in the barley bill. Just remember ‘2–1–2.’ Two ounces of Westland American Oak, one ounce sweet vermouth (buy the good stuff, I love Dolin Rouge), and two dashes of bitters. (Bonus points for using something from the Pacific Northwest like Scrappy’s Orange or Chocolate Bitters!) Garnish with a quality cherry, I prefer Luxardo, and you’ve got a perfect drink to take in the day’s festivities. It’s great up or on the rocks—you’re free to choose!” —Chris Riesbeck, global commercial director at Westland Distillery
2 oz. Westland American Oak Single Malt
1 oz. sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Maraschino cherry, for garnish
Method: Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with maraschino a cherry or two.
“Six Seeds is a flavorful, aromatic, and effervescent sour made with Tod & Vixen’s Dry Gin from a new distillery in the Hudson Valley. The botanicals in the gin work really well because it’s so versatile with everything. Maybe that’s because Eral, the founder of The Vale Fox Distillery, is such a whiskey lover, and the properties in the gin are usually present in good whiskeys.” —Matt Piacentini, owner of The Up & Up, New York City
1 oz. Tod & Vixen’s dry gin 1651
0.75 oz. grapefruit juice
0.5 oz. lemon juice
0.5 oz. Grenadine
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Dry Sparkling Wine
Cinnamon stick, for garnish
Method: Combine all ingredients in a shaker except sparkling wine. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a coupe glass and top with dry sparkling wine. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.
“The Arnold Palmer, a beloved mixture of two summertime favorites (iced tea and lemonade) seemed like the most natural of places to find inspiration for a hot weather bourbon cocktail. I was used to having Arnold Palmers made from powdered iced tea and lemonade—and while there is nothing fancy about The Pinhooker, I think it benefits from fresh-squeezed lemon and brewed iced tea. I was looking to add another dimension to the drink without making it complicated and the herbal brightness of mint seems hard to argue with in a summer drink. Fair warning: While the bourbon lends flavor and texture to the drink, it’s easy to forget you are drinking a full strength cocktail so be careful!” —Sean Josephs, cofounder and master taster at Pinhook
1.5 oz. Pinhook Rye’d On
1.5 oz. iced tea
.75 oz. simple syrup
.75 oz. lemon
5 mint leaves
Method: Shake with mint and ice. Strain into Collins glass over fresh ice. Garnish with a lemon wedge and mint sprig.
SEAGRAM’S VODKA SUMMER TEA JAM
“I recommend taking your summer cocktails to a whole new level with this Summer Tea Jam Cocktail. Seagram’s Sweet Tea Vodka, lemon, sugar, and strawberry jam make this the ultimate summer cocktail to make all season long—not to mention it’s so easy for the home bartender.” —Natalie Migliarini, founder at Beautiful Booze
2 oz. Seagram’s Sweet Tea Vodka
1 oz. lemon juice
0.5 oz. simple syrup
1 barspoon strawberry jam
Directions: Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake hard to chill and combine ingredients. Strain into your glass over fresh ice. Garnish and enjoy!