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Cocktails to Sip This July 4th

Since 1776, Americans have celebrated our nation’s independence with fireworks, baseball games, carnivals, and the like. While this year’s July 4th festivities might look a little different than those of years past, we can still count on good food and great drinks to raise our spirits.

To help you out with your weekend preparations, our Moonshine University educators and staff are sharing 5 of their favorite cocktails to pair with your Independence Day excitement. Here’s the list:


Sparkling Gin Basil Lemonade

What’s better than lemonade on a hot day? For Colin Blake, not much.

Between chasing around his young son at home, our Director of Spirits Education will be sipping on a delicious twist to this summer classic – a Sparkling Gin Basil Lemonade.

This long session drink is bright with citrus, slightly sweet but undercut with the herbal notes from the basil. Carbonation completes the drink for a refreshing, summery mouthfeel. It tastes even better when enjoyed by the pool.

To make your own, all you’ll need for this recipe is your favorite gin, fresh basil, lemon juice, sugar, water, and ice. The result is similar to a typical lemonade, but made sophisticated by the crisp bite of gin and the freshly sweet, peppery flavor of the basil.


Rye on the Rocks

For our Registrar, Christin Head, margaritas are the usual go-to drink during the summer months. But for this special weekend, she plans to switch things up a bit.

True to her Bourbon Steward roots, Christin keeps an assortment of whiskeys on hand to experiment with. Recently, her palate has been on a rye kick.

Rye is known for its heat and spicy bite. With rye grain making up the majority of its mash bill, rye whiskeys lean more to the savory side in contrast with sweeter, corn-based spirits like Bourbon.

This July 4th weekend, Christin plans to crack open her bottles of Willet, made in Bardstown, Kentucky, and 291, a Colorado Springs-based distillery. Served on the rocks, a glass of rye whiskey is easy, light, and cool for the summer. What’s more American than that?


Mint Julep

For Clay Smith, our Distillery Operations Manager, it can get really hot under all that beard. He’s discovered that the best way to cool off (and make a dent in his mint garden) is by sipping on a chilled Mint Julep.

The Mint Julep has almost exclusively been enjoyed at the Kentucky Derby. And while the famous horse racing event has been postponed until September, that doesn’t mean your craving for Juleps has to be!

The classic recipe is easy to recreate at home, but the ceremony involved takes much more flair and preparation. All you need is Bourbon, simple syrup (sugar water), mint, and crushed ice – but there are a few other characteristic qualities you should remember:

  • First, the Mint Julep belongs to a category of cocktails called “smashes,” because its ingredients are smashed together. In the classic version of this cocktail, the mint is muddled with the other ingredients to enhance the flavor, essential oils, and natural juices of the herb.
  • Second, as is tradition, Mint Juleps are always served in pewter cups. The intention is that the drinker holds the drink from either the top or the bottom, allowing the ice to frost the outside of the cup.

Wearing a floppy hat while you sip is not required, but highly encouraged. Bonus points if it’s red, white, and blue.


Classic Margarita

Kevin Hall, Corporate Development, is not one to turn his nose up at a pretty pink Shirley Temple, but if you ask him what he’s really craving for this weekend, he’ll choose a Margarita.

This classic drink is the epitome of summer, and with only three ingredients, it’s also the perfect cocktail for a lazy afternoon. A typical recipe calls for three parts tequila, two parts triple sec, and one part freshly squeezed lime juice, but you can adjust this ratio to suit your tastes. Just throw in some ice and enjoy!

Of course, you can customize your Margarita further by adding salt to the rim, serving it frozen, or introducing summertime flavors like mango, strawberry, and watermelon. However you choose to make it your own, the result is guaranteed to be delicious.



Twisted Tea

Hailing from San Antonio, Texas, our Administrative Assistant, Lindsey Davis is no stranger to the summertime heat. And like a good southern belle, she enjoys cooling down with a chilled glass of sweet iced tea.

This July 4th, Lindsey plans to whip up some Texan fare with a homemade Twisted Tea. To make a pitcher of your own, just gather together vodka, lemonade, black tea bags, sugar, water, and fresh mint.

This recipe uses the lemonade to make the ice cubes for the hard iced tea, but if you’re looking for more of an Arnold Palmer taste, you can simply combine the two liquids and stir. Don’t forget to serve with a lemon slice!

Whatever you choose to sip on this July 4th, we hope you’ll join us in a toast to American Independence. Be safe, have fun this weekend, and we’ll see you in class soon!

Discover the art and science of distilling by taking a hands-on class at Moonshine University. Check out our course catalog to learn more.



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