Fourth of July
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.
Back then, the United States of America included just thirteen states - the former colonies - so the first Independence Day celebrations featured thirteen-gun salutes. Today, a fifty-gun salute is fired at noon to celebrate all fifty states of the Union.
The Fourth of July is a big deal in this patriotic nation, even if metropolitan folk often take the chance to travel instead. Major cities host firework shows and parades, and patriotic songs are sung all over the place.
Here at Difford's Guide we've a 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:
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.
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.
Benton's Old Fashioned
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
Fourth of July Shot
Ok, we said no layered cocktails but no one said anything about shots. Firstly ensure the ingredients are chilled. Making this work is all about specific gravity - 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 curaçao, lastly adding the vodka on top. Happy Fourth of July America!