[Celebrating America

Favorite beverage pairings for your 4th of July cookouts
By Sam Ujvary

"In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved."
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

It's Friday, you've got the day off, and you're planning on celebrating America with 150 of your closest friends at a cookout. This is the life. There's almost certainly a plethora of food resting on a red, white and blue tablecloth-covered picnic table calling your name. Burgers, hot dogs, brats and (hopefully) anything wrapped in bacon. Pairing your full plate with the perfect drink to offset the flavors is going to take a minute. Don't overlook it. You've allowed the Grill Master to design the perfect dish for you, now let your inner mixologist work in perfect harmony to create some great flavor associations. Below are my choices to pair with whatever you've got on that American-sized paper plate.

Hamburgers/cheeseburgers/veggie burgers/hot dogs/brats: Lemonade-based beverages are going to be lighter and will offset the heavy meat. One of my favorites is a blackberry basil lemonade. Muddle 4-5 blackberries, 2 lemon wedges and about 6 leaves of basil. Pour 1.5 ounces of Tito's Vodka over ice and top with the muddled mix, followed with fresh lemonade.

Steaks and bacon dishes: The Old Fashioned has a slightly fruity flavor that already pairs well with the drink's dominant whiskey. It provides a little sweetness that will go nicely with any thick cut of meat. Soak a sugar cube (or 1 packet) in 3 dashes of bitters and muddle with an orange slice and 1 cherry. Add ice, and stir in 1.5 ounces of Basil Hayden's.

Chicken: Any kind of chicken; fried, grilled, or baked will go flawlessly with a Mojito or Caipirinha. Caipirinhas are native to Brazil and are made with Cachaça, which is a sugar cane liquor, while Mojitos are made with white rums and have mint and club soda. I often like to add fresh fruits to mine, either pineapple or strawberry. For a Mojito, muddle a pineapple slice, 3 lime wedges and about 10 mint leaves with 1.5 ounces of Bacardi. pour over ice and top with club soda. For a Caipirinha, muddle a pineapple slice with 3 lime wedges and a sugar cube. Pour in 1.5 ounces of Leblon and enjoy over ice. Any herbs on your chicken dish will be a perfect palate pair.

Fruit salad: Grapes, watermelon and strawberries may be the route you decide to go while rooftop-hopping today. If that's the case, champagne and drier wines will be an essential pair. The fruit will bring out the flavors of the wines.

Corn on the cob/potato and pasta salads: Let's face it—the side dish is there to complement the meat of the meal. But if you're enjoying only a plate full of side dishes (no judgement here), get a little refreshment with this beverage. Pour 1.5 ounces of Cîroc Red Berry over ice, and top it with San Pellegrino Limonata.

As always, please enjoy these pairings responsibly, and have a safe and happy Fourth!

Here's to you, America.