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Fourth of July cocktails

I'm an American expat in Tokyo. I'm having a 4th of July party and I'm looking for cocktail inspiration. Last year I did a menu meant to highlight American booze. I did bourbon drinks (mint julep, whiskey sour, brown derby); rye drinks (Manhattan variations: Manhattan, Park Slope, Brooklyn); a Tom Collins (for American hoaxes, a bit of a stretch on the theme but I wanted a gin drink) and a Papa Doble (for one of America's most famous expats).

This was a hit, but I need something new. Plus, I'll have more folks so 8 options is a lot for me to mix each individual drink as I do. The audience will be mostly Japanese, American, German and Indian nationals who come to these things regularly and are pretty open and amendable to trying all kinds of things.

I was thinking of trying to find 4-6 iconic American cocktails. Maybe something from N, S, E and W plus 2 extra? I thought maybe:

Manhattan (East coast)
Sazerac (South)
???? North
???? West

Or maybe Sazerac being very New Orleans could stand on it's own and perhaps a mint julep for the South? Or is there a better idea than a geographic theme?

Anyway, clearly I'm having menu writer's block and would appreciate any help. I definitely don't want to go red, white and blue or other gimmicky stuff. Just good, iconic cocktails that would say "America," and be not too, too fiddly to mix to order (e.g. I'm not going to attempt any tiki drinks for this party).

I'll be serving slightly Japanese influenced American BBQ food like burgers, hot dogs, potato salad, etc. I can get most booze here. The only think I can't get for sure is St. Germain, but I've brought a couple bottles back recently. Bitters are a bit limited here, but I have Angostura, Peychaud's and a couple others.

Thanks for any ideas!

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  1. How about an Alaska for North? If it's hot and you want it to be more refreshing, add some lemon.


    1 Reply
    1. re: EvergreenDan

      Thanks! I hadn't heard of an Alaska before. That's a good one!

    2. If you want to go native Wisconsin, a brandy old fashioned.

      2 Replies
      1. re: autumm

        Thanks. I remember hearing old fashioned are different up there, is that right?

        1. re: tokyopix

          Brandy is the primary spirit. With bitters, orange slice, cherry, sugar, and lemon-lime soda. Lots of variations out there, I don't know what the "family" blend is

      2. For dessert. I was thinking a Key Lime Pie Martini. But the recipes I looked at seem to require key lime liqueur, which I'm guessing might be hard to find . . .

        1. I don't know where it would fit in your theme, but I love the occasional jalapeƱo cilantro thai basil margarita. I just had an amazing home made strawberry basil lemonade that would work well with a few types of alcohol.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bellachefa

            Thanks. Sounds interesting. I'm looking more for classics, but that certainly sounds festive!

          2. maybe for West Coast something with Fernet. It's popular in SF, right?

            1. I would venture to say the West almost assuredly must be represented by the Margarita.

              5 Replies
              1. re: ArchibaldDrinks

                Would that be clearly West? It would certainly be convenient and popular I'm sure.

                I also found the Golden Gate for West (Grand Marnier, Benedictine, Campari, grapefruit and lemon juice). Anyone ever tried one?

                Detroit Daisy (rum, lime juice, grenadine and mint) could work for North but again I've never had one. Obviously need to use this weekend for try outs.

                1. re: tokyopix

                  Hmmm. Death & Co sounds promising, but 2 oz of Grand Marnier scares the enamel off my teeth.


                  Now a Golden Gate Swizzle would be awesome, but swizzling for a crowd would be a drag. Maybe self-swizzle?


                  1. re: EvergreenDan

                    Hee hee! "...scares the enamel off my teeth."

                    I hate to sound stupid, but could you elaborate on swizzle and swizzling? I've seen something about twirling the swizzle stick (is that the right term?) between your palms, but would I be adding another ingredient to the Golden Gate to make it a Golden Gate Swizzle?

                    1. re: tokyopix

                      No, a Golden Gate Swizzle is a completely different drink with lots of Fernet. Good for a sophisticated and/or adventurous crowd. Not good for safer drinkers.

                      Swizzling is placing a swizzle stick (although a bar spoon could be used) into a glass filled with crushed ice and spinning with your palms as if trying to start a fire by friction (not that I've ever done that). Ideally you swizzle until frost forms on the outside of the glass. It results in a very cold, more diluted drink.

                      Real swizzle sticks come the West Indies from a tree. http://www.cocktailkingdom.com/produc...


                      1. re: EvergreenDan

                        Okay, thanks for the additional info!

              2. I recommend the Betsy Ross - easy, tasty, and not too common - I think she was from the Mid-Atlantic region - it's a great drink, and the Ferrand Dry Curacao is worth getting if you can:


                1 Reply
                1. re: rlh

                  Thanks! This looks good. I'll put it into the try outs this weekend. I think I can get the Ferrand as I've seen their products in several places.

                  Many thanks!

                2. For anyone else on this quest, I finally found this which is helpful:


                  It turns out that my mistake was searching "4th of July cocktails", which was just giving me froo-froo red, white and blue stuff. I finally switched to searching "American cocktails" and I'm having more luck.

                  Is anyone else doing cocktails for the 4th?