photo: courtesy of Bridget Montgomery
For some, the true American pastime is not baseball, or even a meal of hot dogs and apple pie—it's drinking. And while light beer might be the quintessential stateside tipple, you don't have to settle for watered-down brews when celebrating our country's independence. From martinis inspired by the flag to traditional American dessert-themed cocktails, these drinks will surely get you in the "spirit" of the holiday.
The Flag at J Bar
Just like the real thing, it would be a crime to let this flag hit the ground. But nobody's going to shun you for drinking the thing. Served in a martini glass and appropriately garnished with a mini American flag, this patriotic drink combines vodka, blue curacao and sweet and sour mix. To kick things off, or set them over the edge, J Bar will also be serving 4th of July shots. Before you sling back this little liquid firecracker, check out its seamless layers of grenadine, blue curacao and vodka.
Lava Lamp at Kit Kat Lounge and Supper Club
What better way to celebrate the 4th than with a little bang in your cocktail? You can find that extra kick in this psychedelic martini with its floating cherry-flavored, vodka-infused Jell-O shot. Kit Kat Lounge holds recipes to over 100 martinis, but this is by far the most nostalgic—a nod to the days of free love, platform shoes and rock 'n' roll. You just may find yourself wishing you had worn that tie-dyed top after all.
Navy Grog at Fat Cat
Americans love a good sailor. Especially ones like Ernest Raymond Beaumont-Gantt (aka Don the Beachcomber), who brought back tasty tipples from the tropics. While tiki restaurants are now about as easy to find as a vessel in the Bermuda Triangle, you can still find Gantt's-inspired Navy Grog at Fat Cat. This Uptown bar would make Don proud with its mix of three rums (light, dark and gold), freshly squeezed lime, honey syrup and a splash of club soda.
Blueberry Peach Cobbler at Blue Water Grill
This fruity concoction honors an entire class of old-fashioned American cocktails. Instead of using juices, like many mixed drinks, the cobbler was created by taking fresh fruit and shaking it directly with the desired liquor. Blue Water Grill remains true to the traditional method with its combination of fresh-diced peaches, blueberries and an ounce and a half of bourbon. A generous spoonful of sugar and a splash of pineapple juice are added to make this salute to the classic even sweeter. And just when you think this is as good as it gets, the drink is strained into a graham cracker-rimmed rocks glass and garnished with a mini flag, $10.
The "Ella" Jazzberry at Hamburger Mary's
If American jazz sensation Ella Fitzgerald were a martini, she would've been a fruity one. Or at least Hamburger Mary's thinks so. The Andersonville restaurant pays tribute to Ella with its signature jazzy mix of raspberry vodka, blue curacao, pineapple juice and lime. If jazz isn't your thing, you can try the country-western themed "Dolly Parton" cocktail, which is also fruit-based. But Parton's tipple gets a tangy kick with watermelon pucker, triple sec and cranberry. There's even a little something on the menu called the "Mariah Carey" for pop-music junkies.
Caramel Apple Martini at Junior's Sports Lounge
The only thing more American than this variation of your favorite treat on a stick would be a homemade hunk of apple pie. This apple-rum candied concoction gets drizzled with caramel sauce for a sugar rush that's sure to please the carnival-loving kid in all of us, $10.
The Long Island at Minibar
Rumor has it that the Long Island iced tea was invented during Prohibition. Many native New Yorkers might argue otherwise and many Chicagoans couldn't care either way, so long as it's served up good and strong. And that's just how it's done at Minibar. These Boystown bartenders use their own house-made orange-infusion in place of triple sec and only add sour mix and cola on-call. The heady drink gets poured into a 14-ounce glass and garnished with an orange and a cherry ($11).