Patriotic Cocktails for the Fourth | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Patriotic Cocktails for the Fourth


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Four rye whiskey cocktails to keep you cool

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Every year as we approach Independence Day celebrations, I invariably find myself thinking of American rye whiskey. I’ve written before about the history of such celebrations and how they were inevitably well lubricated events, especially in the early days of this republic when the tipple of choice was often domestic rye whiskey.

As the late master distiller Dave Pickerell once put it to me, “When they threw the tea into Boston Harbor, it wasn’t just throwing tea, it was throwing the British way of life — and that included rum, the colonial drink. They certainly weren’t about to quit drinking, but it did mean they were going to switch to something made indigenously, and that was rye whiskey.”

Here are four rye whiskey cocktails to keep you cool in the heat and ensure that you remain a most happy Yankee Doodle Dandy. Any decent, potent American straight rye whiskey will do nicely here.

Rye and Ginger Ale

Originally a Prohibition era concoction designed to mask the taste of the inferior grain whiskey mixed with rye, it turns out that ginger ale actually goes wonderfully with quality rye.


2 ounces rye

4-5 ounces Ginger Ale

2-3 cubes of hard ice


Pour the rye into a pre-chilled Collins glass, add the ice cubes, and top up with the ginger ale. Simple; delicious.

Gall Bracer

This is short, simple, tasty, and very bracing indeed.


1½ ounces of rye

2 dashes of Angostura bitters

2 dashes of grenadine


Pour the ingredients into a tumbler or rocks glass with ice.

If wanting a more elegant presentation, mix the same ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with hard cracked ice, stir or shake, and then strain into a pre-chilled martini or cocktail glass. Regardless of presentation, garnish—if you wish—with a maraschino cherry.

Note: There are several store-bought Grenadine options, but it is easy and far better to make at home: Boil 1 cup of pomegranate juice with ¼ cup of sugar until the sugar dissolves and the consistency is a simple syrup; cool and mix in freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste; probably half a lemon is enough.

The Ward Eight

According to cocktail lore: Barman Tom Hussion at the Locke-Ober Café in downtown Boston created this drink in 1898 to celebrate a local politician’s victorious bid for the Massachusetts General Court from Ward Eight. It is yummy.


2 ounces of rye

¾ of an ounce of fresh orange juice

¾ of an ounce of fresh lemon juice

1 slight teaspoon of grenadine


Pour ingredients into a shaker filled with hard cracked ice. Shake well and either strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass or, even better—although less traditional, strain into a pre-chilled Highball or Collins glass half-full of cracked ice, and top-up with club soda or seltzer.

The rye’s sharp tang marries wonderfully with the tart bite of the lemon, which is ever so gently softened and rounded by the orange, while the grenadine’s sweetness helps throw the whole thing into perfect harmony.

The Blinker

The origins of this one are obscure, but the recipe first appears in Patrick Gavin Duffy’s 1934 bar guide, The Official Mixer's Manual. Duffy was a renowned NY barman in the late 19th century through pre-Prohibition 20th century, and his manual was one of the first to be published after Prohibition was lifted. It is said that the name comes from an old synonym for “blinders,” the small leather patches that attach to a horse’s bridle at the side of the head, greatly limiting their peripheral vision, helping to keep the horses focused. Not sure this drink has the same effect on humans, but it sure slakes the thirst.


2 ounces of rye

3 ounces of fresh grapefruit juice

1 ounce of grenadine

Strip of grapefruit zest for garnish


Combine in a cocktail shaker filled with hard, cracked ice and shake well. Strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass. Twist the zest over the drink to release its citrus oils, and then drop into it.

Alternative: A tweak from 2004’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh calls for 1 ounce of grapefruit juice instead of 3, and he substituted raspberry syrup—the kind you drizzle on ice cream—for the grenadine, and uses only 1 teaspoon instead of 1 ounce.

Both versions of The Blinker are delicious, and strike a lovely balance between tart and sweet. Personally, I tend towards the classic which I find particularly smooth, a tad spicy, and wonderfully refreshing.


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