4th of July Cocktail (credit: Thinkstock)

A festive cocktail can be the perfect way to elevate a 4th of July celebration, and provide some much-needed refreshment from the summer heat. San Francisco restaurateur Suzanne Gansler shares some idea on how to class up a 4th of July cocktail, drawing from her many years of experience tending bar in the city. Festive cocktails for the 4th can include everything from the incorporation of seasonal produce to the inclusion of fizzy ingredients. Get the party started and be the hit of the neighborhood by using one of these ideas to fancify cocktails on the 4th.

Suzanne Gansler
2919 16th St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 465-5830

Suzanne Gansler is co-owner and founder of one of San Francisco’s latest up and coming eateries, Starboard. Starboard is the latest sister business to the popular bar next door, Slate. Catering to the late night crowd, Starboard is open until midnight on Tuesday and Wednesday, and a generous 3:00 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Patrons will enjoy the hofbrau style eats, which center around satisfying meaty comfort food and delicious flavor combinations.

Incorporate Seasonal Produce

Gansler suggests crafting a festive cocktail for the 4th by starting with a base of simple syrup combined with lemon juice. To this mix, she recommends muddling some fresh seasonal fruit such as strawberries or blueberries in the bottom of a glass. Pour the simple syrup-lemon juice mixture over the fruit, and then top with beer for a red, white and blue cocktail. To make it extra festive, try spiking it with a white alcohol.

Think Red, White And Blue

Take the red, white and blue theme further by focusing on cocktails made from brightly colored ingredients. For blue inspiration, try vibrant curacao and fresh blueberries or blackberries. Red ingredients could include cranberry juice, rose wine or Chambord. White ingredients could include cream, half and half or a clear alcohol like vodka or tequila. Another option is to combine vodka with red or blue Kool Aid to make grown-up version of the classic kids’ drink.

Choose Fizzy Ingredients

Showcase the Fourth of July by whipping up a batch of cocktails that reflect traditional fireworks. A variety of ingredients can be incorporated into a cocktail to create an explosive mouth feel. Look to cocktails that incorporate fizzy liquids such as sparkling white wine, club soda or the red-hued Lambrusco. Alternatively, line the rims of glasses with explosive Pop Rocks candy to pack a punch when guests sip their cocktails.

Layer Drinks

Another way to showcase the colors of the season is by creating layered cocktails with separate layers showcasing red, white and blue ingredients. A layered effect can be achieved by choosing ingredients of varied viscosity, which are then poured from heaviest to lightest to create distinct layers in a drink. One possible combination is a bottom strawberry daiquiri layer, followed by a layer of blue curacao and finished off with a dollop of whipped cream. Red, white and blue Jello shots would be another simple way to showcase a colorful layered design.


Even the plainest of cocktails can be embellished into something finer with the use of a clever garnish. Fourth of July cocktails can easily be created by rimming glasses in red, white or blue colored sugar. Try using a cookie cutter to trim crisp watermelon into star shapes which can then be used to garnish cocktails. Another way to incorporate a holiday fruit garnish would be to skewer a combination of strawberries, blueberries and mini marshmallows to pop atop drinks.

Joanna Metheny is a freelance writer covering all things South Bay. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.