4 July

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Fourth of July

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There's not many days more patriotic around the world than America's Independence Day. It's a celebration marking the day in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was signed, a mere two days after the United States had said its farewells to Britain and struck out on its own.

And so today, around America and anywhere that US expats happen to find themselves, there will be fireworks, picnics, parades and barbecues.

Here at Difford's Guide we're proudly British through and through but have a certain soft spot for the nation who gave us Jerry Thomas, American whiskey in all its incarnations, the legend of rum runners, speakeasies and the cocktail bar crawling paradise that is New York City.

So we won't be pandering to the populous with a layered cocktail of red, white and blue this Independence Day. Instead let's celebrate American bartending in all its glory with these 10 American classics.

Mint Julep

recipe here
A cocktail closely identified with America's Deep South, and famously served at the Kentucky Derby, the Julep probably came to America by way of Europe but was only made with whiskey once it had crossed the Atlantic.

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The first written reference we have to a cocktail-style Julep was by a Virginia gentleman in 1787. At that time it could be made with rum, brandy or whiskey, but by 1900 whiskey had become the preferred base spirit. Refreshingly perfect for a Fourth of July barbecue, we're kicking off with this classic to start the celebrations. You won't need much, just some mint, bourbon, sugar and bitters. Plus a ton of crushed ice.

Sweet Manhattan

recipe here
A Manhattan is a brilliant drink in all its incarnations but the simple addition of maraschino syrup really ties together all the beautiful vanilla and caramel flavours found in the whiskey.

Various origins for this drink abound. Either way they all take place in New York in the late 1800s. Again a fairly simple drink to make, you'll need bourbon, maraschino cherries in a jar, sweet vermouth and bitters.


recipes and more on Cosmo here
Not the 1934 recipe calling for gin but the modern classic we all associate with New York City where bar legend, Dale DeGroff, and HBO's Sex and the City perfected the drink and made it stylish.

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It's generally agreed that this version of the Cosmopolitan originated on America's West Coast sometime during the 1980s. Ever since then it's been a universal bar call. Or to quote Sex and the City (yes really);
Charlotte: "This is delicious."
Miranda: "Why did we ever stop drinking these?"
Carrie: "Because everyone else started."

Benton's Old Fashioned

recipe here
A classic from New York invented in 2008 by Don Lee in PDT, this pimped Old Fashioned calls for bacon fat-washed bourbon. And, as internet lore tells us, even vegetarians like bacon.

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PDT (short of Please Don't Tell) is one of Manhattan's stunning bars modelled on Prohibition speakeasies. The best place to enjoy one of Don's creations is, of course, through the 1940s phone booth in Crif Dogs and sat at the bar. However, fat-washing isn't too difficult a technique to try at home and it's well worth toasting the independent 'land of the free and home of the brave' with one of these tasty numbers.


recipe here
Another modern classic, using Scottish whisky and invented by an Australian, this might seem like an unlikely cocktail for the Fourth of July. But bear with us. Because while Sam Ross might be one of New York's many immigrants, he brought a new style of whisky cocktail to the world, proving the innovation that still exists and flourishes in the American bar world.

Created in the original Milk & Honey - arguably the bar that made speakeasies popular again - the space is now Attaboy, owned by Sam and his partner in crime, Michael McIlroy.

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recipe here
What is said to be the original 1960s recipe used at Pat O'Brien's in New Orleans can be found in Jeff Berry's 1998 Beachbum Berry's Grog Log. The recipe was adapted to a rum and juice combination where it was served in 1939 at the World's Fair in New York at the Hurricane bar.

This is an absolute classic with endless potential for adaptation. But for the Fourth of July we're heading back down history lane with an original recipe of rum, passion fruit and lemon.


recipe here
The rounded, distinctive flavour of this classic New Orleans cocktail is reliant on one essential ingredient: Peychaud's aromatic bitters created by one Antoine Amedee Peychaud. Arriving as a refugee in New Orleans he eventually created an 'American Aromatic Bitter Cordial' and marketed it as a medicinal tonic, serving his bitters mixed with brandy and other liquors.

A bartender called Leon Lamothe is thought to have created the Sazerac, probably using Peychaud's aromatic bitters, Sazerac cognac and sugar. However a combination of phylloxera (which devastated French vineyards) and the American Civil War made cognac hard to obtain and the recipe changed, using rye whiskey and adding a splash of the newly fashionable absinthe.

Dirty Martini

recipe here
The ultimate bar call of the American tourist. Standing at a bar anywhere around the world you can almost guarantee if there's an order for one of these it will be in an American accent.

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Some attribute the creation of this drink to Roosevelt; the 32nd president was a keen home bartender, although his cocktails were reportedly 'horrendous' and there is no evidence that he used olive brine in his Martinis. Sorry Franklin.

Mai Tai

recipe here
One for the West Coast here, invented by Victor Jules Bergeron, or Trader Vic as he became known. Opening his first restaurant in Oakland, San Francisco, Trader Vic is best known for his tiki cocktails.

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The story goes that one evening in 1944 he tested a new drink on two friends from Tahiti, Ham and Carrie Guild. After the first sip, Carrie exclaimed, "Mai Tai-Roa Aé", which in Tahitian means 'Out of this world - the best!'. So Trader Vic named his drink the Mai Tai. And as Vic says in his own Bartender's Guide, "Anybody who says I didn't create this drink is a dirty stinker."

Fourth of July Shot

recipe here
Ok, we said no layered cocktails but no one said anything about shots. Making this work is all about layering, so make sure the ingredients are chilled first. The grenadine syrup is the heaviest and therefore needs to be poured into the glass first, then using a bar spoon carefully pour in the blue curacoa, lastly adding the vodka on top. Looks great. That's all we're saying. Happy Fourth of July America!

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