The Fourth of July snuck up on me this year! As I was preparing the menu for our annual barbecue, it occurred to me that it might be fun to integrate cocktails from around the U.S. Here are my top five suggestions for classic American cocktails, each hailing from a different region of the country, to liven up your Fourth of July gathering this year.
The official drink of the Kentucky Derby for over a century, you can’t go wrong with a Mint Julep on a hot summer day. To make one, you’ll need fresh mint leaves, 1 teaspoon of sugar, ice and 3 ounces of bourbon. Crush the mint leaves and sugar at the bottom of the glass, fill the glass with ice, and pour bourbon on top. Mint Juleps are traditionally served in silver julep glasses, but a regular glass lowball also does the job.
Created in Washington, D.C. by a 19th century lobbyist named Joe Rickey (however, his version was with whisky, not gin), the Gin Ricky is a simple, refreshing cocktail. You’ll need 1 1/2 ounces gin, 1/2 lime (with the rind), and club soda. Mix all of these ingredients in a tall glass with ice and enjoy.
This classic drink pays homage to Hawaii, but it was actually invented in California. Victor J. Bergeron (aka Trader Vic) created the drink in the 1940s at his eponymous Oakland restaurant. You’ll need 2 ounces of rum (a traditional Mai Tai is made with 1 ounce of light rum and 1 ounce of dark rum), ½ ounce of lime juice, ½ ounce of orange curacao, ½ ounce of orgeat syrup, and 1 Maraschino cherry as a garnish. Pour all the ingredients (except the dark rum, if you’re using two kinds of rum) into a shaker with ice cubes and shake well. Strain into an old-fashioned glass half filled with ice. Top the drink with dark rum and garnish with the cherry.
A delicious, summery concoction, the Rum Runner was invented in the 1950s at the Holiday Isle Tiki Bar in Florida. You’ll need two cups of ice, 1 oz pineapple juice, 1 oz orange juice, 1 oz blackberry liqueur, 1 oz banana liqueur, 1 oz light rum, 1 oz dark rum (or aged rum), a splash of grenadine, one ounce of Bacardi 151 (to float on top), and an orange. Blend all of the ingredients except the Barcardi 151 and the orange slice. Pour into a hurricane glass, garnish with the orange slice and add the Bacardi 151 floater on top.
The Missouri Mule
This classic cocktail was created in honor of President Harry S. Truman (who was from Missouri and a democrat – hence the name). You’ll need ¾ oz bourbon, ¾ oz Applejack, ¾ oz lemon juice, ½ oz Campari, and ½ oz Triple Sec or Cointreau. Combine these ingredients with ice in a shaker, shake well, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.