For the grownups: dazzling drinks
Step up your barbecue game with these fun Fourth of July drink ideas shared by cocktail connoisseurs from local restaurants.
Instead of using food coloring, Rachael Jones of Firefly Bistro has found other creative ways to incorporate red, white and blue into her “summer sippers.”
“They utilize fresh fruits, herbs and natural flavors and colors — no blue food coloring — and several are variations on classic recipes,” she said. “I strongly recommend drinking all of these in the sun!”
Berries are a simple and yummy way to achieve red and blue coloring. Take a summertime favorite like a margarita and mix it up with some blueberry juice. The drink itself will be more of a reddish color than a blue, but you can add blue with a garnish of fresh blueberries and white with a coarse sea salt rim.
A mojito is refreshing and perfect for enjoying on a hot day; give it some bold color with a handful of muddled blueberries and raspberries. If you want something really sweet, try a fruity vodka cooler with pomegranate juice for the red coloring and muddled blackberries for the blue.
If sangria is more your style, there are all kinds of variations you can play with to give it some patriotic flair. Make a red sangria with either a tempranillo or a merlot and a brandy, or a white sangria with either pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc and an elderflower liqueur. Add some fresh red and blue fruits to incorporate more color.
For something a bit more adventurous, try a campari cocktail with a couple of lightly muddled fresh basil leaves. The campari’s vibrant red color gives it a fun, festive look.
Peaches Paige of Cotton also has some Fourth of July drink suggestions.
For margaritas, she said, you can achieve the color white with a traditional margarita, red with a strawberry margarita and blue if you replace the triple sec in a regular margarita with blue Curaçao.
“Frozen margaritas are always good,” she said. “You can also layer these in a clear glass to get the red, white and blue effect.”
The same idea applies for a cosmopolitan: a traditional cosmo is pinkish red. To achieve a white or clear cosmo, simply replace the red cranberry juice with white cranberry juice. For a blue cosmo, use white cranberry juice and substitute blue curacao for the triple sec. You can also make these frozen and layer them to get a drink with all three colors.
For the kids: starry snacks
Keep the kids at your barbecue happy with these fun and tasty Fourth of July treats suggested by local culinary experts.
New Hampshire food blogger Susan Nye said a make-your-own ice cream sundae bar with vanilla ice cream and fruit toppings would be a big hit at any barbecue.
“Just arrange the fruit on a tray so that there’s a strip of blueberries, strawberries and bananas, which are kind of white, then give the kids the ice cream and they can make their own sundae,” she said. “It’s very easy, and it’s festive with all the Fourth of July colors.”
Or, instead of ice cream, you can do a striped parfait with layers of white Greek yogurt and red and blue berries.
If there’s an area where you don’t mind the kids getting a little messy, have them decorate their own patriotic cookies with frosting and sprinkles. Just make some plain sugar cookies beforehand. You can even use a star-shaped cookie cutter or cut the cookies into rectangle shapes so the kids can decorate them as flags.
Cupcakes are always a winner. Not only are they an easy treat to serve to groups, but they’re also a good option if you know there will be kids with food allergies or other dietary restrictions present. For example, if you make a separate batch of gluten-free cupcakes, you can decorate those with stripes and the regular cupcakes with stars, or one with red frosting and the other with blue frosting. That way, there’s a clear distinction, but you aren’t singling anyone out.
Kristen Chinosi of the Culinary Playground also shared some kid-approved treats that have been featured in her youth cooking classes.
“Obviously, there’s the patriotic berries, and there’s a lot you can do with those,” she said. “You could put them on skewers and serve them with a yogurt dip. We make a tasty one with marshmallow fluff and orange that tastes just like a creamsicle.”
The dip goes especially well with blueberries, black raspberries and cubed watermelon.
You could also do a festive trifle with white or yellow cake and layers of vanilla pudding and red and blue berries.
For a snack that’s savory rather than sweet, try a plate of roasted potatoes with herbs or a potato salad using red, white and blue (yes, they’re really blue) potatoes. Another idea is to get a mixed bag of white, red and blue tortilla chips and serve with a dip, fresh salsa or guacamole.
“I love the mixed chips idea,” Chinosi said. “The blue corn chips are fun, and served with the fresh tomato salsa, it really gets that red, white and blue thing going on.”