Have a Smashing Independence Day!

photo by Colin Henderson
photo by Colin Henderson

We’ve spent another year pursuing our inalienable rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

It’s time to get smashed.

It’s a well earned day off. You want to make delicious cocktails, but you don’t want to work too hard at it either. Sure, it would be most impressive to serve that red, white and blue layered Pousse Café to your friends and family you saw in a popular magazine, but

  1. No one is expecting you to.
  2. The ingredients you’d need to make one, especially with those colors, are pretty gross, especially when consumed together.
  3. Seriously, even Martha Stewart wouldn’t really drink that.
  4. Leave the oohs and ahhs to the fireworks display.

Instead, turn to the season’s fresh ingredients and quality American spirits, and you will have some delightful, patriotic drinks that don’t even require shaking! You can appeal to Declaration of Independence author Thomas Jefferson’s scientific nature by experimenting - mixing and matching a variety of fruit, herbs and spirits (and even drink the bourbon named after him!)

However, some people just need a recipe. The appropriate glassware is suggested, but we know a bunch of you are just going to use a SOLO cup if you’re outdoors. And that’s OK, truths being self evident and all.

Peach, Basil and Mint Smash by Amanda Schuster
Peach, Basil and Mint Smash by Amanda Schuster

Peach, Basil and Mint Smash

  • 2 slices Fresh, ripe peach
  • 2 leaves Mint
  • 2 leaves Basil
  • barspoon of Simple Syrup or Agave Nectar
  • 44 ml/1.5 oz Bourbon or Rye (2013 NY International Spirits Competition silver medal winner Knob Creek makes both!)
  • Splash of Sweet Vermouth
  • Fruit bitters, such as rhubarb, peach, lemon or orange
  • Ginger Beer or Ginger Ale
  • Garnish: Peach slice, sprigs of mint and/or basil. Optional.

Add the fruit, herbs and sweetener to an Old Fashioned glass and muddle gently till fruit is softened, juices and oils are released and mixed together. Add booze and bitters and give it a good stir. Pack glass with ice and stir again. Top with ginger fizz of choice. Garnish or not as desired.

I’m No Cranky Hanky Panky

The recipe is a riff on the classic Ada Coleman Hanky Panky cocktail recipe. The name derives from the beginning of the second verse of You’re a Grand Ole Flag. You fulfill the red, white and blue criteria with the individual ingredients, though don’t freak out if they combine to a purple; it’s the thought that counts. Also, this is no time for the cranky variety of hanky pankys.

  • 2 Large Strawberries
  • 5 Blueberries
  • 1 leaf Fresh Sage (optional)
  • 44 ml/1.5 oz American Dry Gin (such as Bluecoat, Brooklyn Gin, TUB or Corsair)
  • 30ml/1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • Scant dash Fernet Branca
  • Tonic or Soda Water
  • Garnish: Whole Berries

In an Old Fashioned glass, gently muddle the berries with the sage if using. Add rest of ingredients and stir with ice. Top with fizz. Garnish.

I'm No Cranky Hanky Panky by Amanda Schuster
I'm No Cranky Hanky Panky by Amanda Schuster

Watermelon and Basil Smash

The recipe calls for light rum, which was the original American spirit before the Revolution. You can make this one with either vodka (such as NYISC medalist Loft & Bear or Tito’s) or gin, too. And nothing says “American Summer Party” like watermelon! If you don't have basil, fresh thyme or mint also would make a fine substitute.

  • 3 large chunks Watermelon, seeded
  • 3 Basil leaves
  • Slice lime
  • pinch salt
  • 60ml/2 oz Light American Rum (such as Ballast Point, Owney's or Privateer)
  • 15ml/.5 oz Simple Syrup or Agave Nectar
  • Tonic or Soda Water
  • Garnish: lime wheel, optional

Muddle the watermelon, basil, lime and salt in Collins glass. Add rum with the sweetener and stir until combined. Add ice, stir again and top with fizz. Garnish.