Spirits of the Fourth

Drinks to Try and DIY for the USA’s Birthday

This country has taken another lap around the sun since it gained its independence, and it’s time to celebrate. From wine to beer to cocktails, and from vineyards and gardens to poolsides and surg, here are some recommendations for how to stay hydrated throughout the holiday.

What better way to watch Montauk’s annual fireworks display than with your feet in the sand and a beer in your hand? On the night of the Fourth at 9 p.m., the “Stars over Montauk” fireworks display will launch from Umbrella Beach, lighting up the sky over the ocean to the rhythm of tunes played on local radio station 104.7 FM (don’t worry, you can stream from your phone). But before heading to the shores, stock up on beverages from Montauk Brewing Company, a 15-minute walk away.

This seven-year-old craft brewing operation run out of an old barn by three Long Island dudes now stocks shelves around the country, but it’s far from a sell-out brand; quality hops and easy-drinking ABV levels keep Montauk Brewing’s pastel-colored cans a staple in the backpacks of local surfers and beach belles all year round. The crisp and refreshing Summer Ale and the fruity Watermelon Session Ale are favorites for the warmer months, when the best way to tackle the heat is with a beer that’s very light and very cold. Or, head to the tasting room to give the seven options a try before stocking your cooler and heading into the holiday. (62 S. Erie Ave., Montauk)

Compared to other vineyard-clad of the world, the U.S. has relatively little legislation governing its winemaking industry, with less restrictive rules around geographic branding and labeling. In the spirit of independence, use this holiday to explore a new Long Island vineyard and celebrate the grape-based freedoms of the East End.

If you’re feeling like having a particularly cultural Fourth, Channing Daughters in Bridgehampton not only serves intimate tasting sessions daily, but it also has a sculpture garden featuring works of owner Walter Channing placed throughout the vineyards and in the tasting room as well. The range of reds and whites and even orange wines is vast, so come prepared to ask some questions, though the summer specialty here might well be the elegant, floral Rosato Di Sculpture Garden.

Another renowned winemaker in the neighborhood is Duck Walk, which across its two vineyards in Southampton and North Fork now encompasses 140 acres and boasts a number of awards to its name. Ice wine, dessert wines and a Gatsby Red add elements of surprise to the collection, but those in the know come to Duck Walk for Blueberry Port, a fortified wine made from wild blueberries that is best sipped with jazz under the stars. (Channing Daughters: 1927 Scuttle Hole Rd., Bridgehampton; Duck Walk: 44535 Route 25, Southold and 231 Montauk Hwy., Water Mill)

Celebrating America’s birthday with a pool party? Rather than preparing drinks for your guests piecemeal, put together some pitchers ahead of time and let your guests host themselves. For an easy-to-make crowd favorite, throw together some Aperol Spritz en masse, combining one bottle of Aperol, one bottle of Prosecco, and one liter of seltzer water. Pour over ice and garnish with orange slices – and that’s it. Five minutes of labor will earn you a summer-long reputation of sophistication.

Given the locale it is also requisite to have some Long Island Iced Tea on hand for such an occasion. This one requires a few more ingredients, but the preparation is still relatively easy, as everyone’s version differs based on taste. Combine in a big jug – or, better yet, a glass water dispenser – equal parts vodka, gin, white rum, tequila, and Cointreau, plus a bit of dark beer to taste if you want a final punch. Leave a couple of inches of room at the top to fill with equal parts sour mix, lemon juice, and Coca Cola. The end result should resemble the light-caramel color of weak iced tea, though this summer concoction is about as dangerously potent as they come.

For smaller affairs, take advantage of nature’s seasonal offerings and craft your cocktails with the range of farm-fresh berries that crop up from Long Island soils this time of year. For a Stars and Stripes Mojito, take
a small handful of blueberries and two diced strawberries, and muddle them in the bottom of a glass with
10 fresh mint leaves, one tablespoon of fresh-squeezed lime juice, and one teaspoon of raw sugar until the sugar is well-mixed into the smashed berries. Next, pour in 1.5 ounces of white rum and stir well. Fill the glass with ice and pour in club soda, then garnish with more berries and mint leaves as desired.

Alternatively (or additionally), shake up a classic and make a Blackberry Martini. For two of these drinks, you’ll need one cup of fresh blackberries, brandy, gin, triple sec, sugar, and a lemon. Blend the blackberries until they;re puréed, then add two tablespoons of brandy, one teaspoon of sugar, and blend again until it runs smoothly. Then, fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add half a cup of gin, one tablespoon of Triple Sec, one tablespoon of lemon juice, one tablespoon of simple syrup (made by combining equal parts water and sugar and boiling until the sugar dissolves), and one tablespoon of the berry purée. Shake well, and then strain into the glasses – which, if you want to be extra fancy, you can rub with lemon wedges and dip in sugar. And what to do with the remaining berry mixture? Repeat the recipe until it’s July 5th.