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Smokey American Cocktails for your 4th of July BBQ

Smokey American Cocktails for your 4th of July BBQ

The Best Cocktails to Pair with Barbecued Food

Independence Day (the 4th of July) is a national holiday in America, where they celebrate winning the American Revolutionary War against us Brits. It’s a bummer we lost, but the good news is, Americans really know how to revel in winning and focus their holiday on outdoor events, including fireworks, barbecues and parties. We take a look at some American Classic Cocktails to see what might pair with our favourite chargrilled foodstuffs.


What Cocktail Ingredients Do I Need for an American BBQ?

The Revolutionary War changed the way that Americans prepared and served food. Pre -1783, when the states were collectively known as British America, the UK controlled all of the trade routes in and out of the country. We had colonised most of the West Indies, Bermuda and the Nova Scotia coast of Canada, which meant that we could sell and tax whatever we wanted. Blighty used the ex-pats as consumers for its maritime wares, including slaves, sugar and European and Eastern luxuries. The new world settlers got a bit fed up with that in the end!

When they first arrived, the puritans tried to brew British-style beer, but food was scarce, and they needed barley to make bread. So rum plugged the gap. Molasses was easy to come by as a by-product of the West Indies sugar trade. The Northern States like New England and Maine swapped molasses for salted cod, and other preserved meats and rum distilleries sprung up around port cities like Boston. Then, around the same time as the revolutionary war, Scotch and Irish immigrants discovered they could make whiskey from grains like rye and maise. The timing and the fact that it was domestically produced meant whiskey became associated with the independent American spirit. Then the influx of inspired immigrants just after the war included German brewers who set up the beer brands we know today, like Pabst, Budweiser and Coors. 

So American whiskey, Caribbean rum and German-style beers became the quintessential drinks bookending the American Revolutionary War and the period of change that came with the Declaration of Independence. So let’s stick with these classic cowboy drink ingredients. 


Cocktails You Can Pair With Slow Cooked Meats

Hot smoked meat, like pulled pork, pork belly, brisket, ribs and pork or lamb shoulder, taste delicious because they are essentially sealed and stewed in their own (high amounts of) fat. The fat breaks down during the smoking process into a liquid that infiltrates the dish, making it glisten with oozy, flavourful goodness.

You need rich, bold spirits like whiskey, rum and bourbon to stand up to the punchy spices and rubs used in marinades and the unctuous smoked flavours of the meat itself. Pair them with acidic ingredients like vinegar, citrus, pineapple or apples to cut through the fat. Go for spicy or bitter modifiers like chilli, ginger, anise or tannins from dark fruits or leafy greens.

Ginger Rum Negroni

In a rocks glass, served over cubed ice, stir together:

30ml Spiced Rum

30ml Campari (a citrus-forward bitter aperitif)

30ml Sweet Italian Vermouth

Top with an aroma-filled bubble using the Flavour Blaster Ginger Aromatic


Cocktails You Can Pair with Burgers and Hotdogs

For most people, the combination of hashed beef or ham, plus bread and possibly cheese, is as close as you can get to heaven on earth. It’s an easy food to switch out for vegan alternatives, too, with plentiful meat alternatives on the shelves in supermarkets across the country. However, like the Martini, meat in a bun can be served in a multitude of ways, and everyone has a different personal preference. So, when it comes to pairing cocktails with these classics, keep it simple. Go with longer drinks, too, as bread can quite literally be a mouthful.


Lynchburg Lemonade

Served in a tall highball glass over crushed ice, shake together:

40mls of Straight American whiskey 

20ml Triple Sec

80ml of homemade lemonade

Top with a smoke-filled bubble using the Flavour Blaster Smoke Aromatic


Cocktails You Can Pair with Vegetarian Barbecue Sides

The Americans know how to make veggies taste good, and classic side dishes include roasted corn on the cob, slow-cooked jacket sweet potatoes, grilled peaches and slow-baked pulses like beans. Then there are sides like potato salad and coleslaw. These foods have a lot of inherent sweetness and are often made creamy through the addition of dairy, like melted butter, cream or mayonnaise. You can really go to town by pairing the sweetness to fruiter mixers, but make sure you cut through that fatty dairy with some herbaceous greens.


Watermelon Beer Cooler

Slice and dice a watermelon and blend it into a juice

Pour a light, wheat beer to half fill a tall glass, add a squeeze of half a fresh lime

Pour the watermelon juice to fill, being mindful of the fizzy head on the beer

Garnish with a slapped mint spring


Top with a smoke-filled cloche containing the Flavour Blaster Rosemary Aromatic


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