Happy 4th of July!
While there are plenty of worthy drinks with which to celebrate Independence Day today—my hat's off to the hundreds of amazing microbrews, wines, and spirits produced in the U.S.—my vote would be for bourbon.
By law, only American whiskey made of at least 51% corn mash can be called bourbon. There can be (and definitely are) excellent whiskies from around the world, but there can't be Japanese, Canadian, or Scottish bourbon. This spirit is uniquely ours.
(That old saw about how bourbon must be from Kentucky? Not true. For a long time, Kentucky was home to many of the largest bourbon distilleries, and it still produces a phenomenal amount of the stuff, but bourbon made in Colorado is just as much bourbon as the liquid gold that comes from the Bluegrass State.)
There are, of course, endless ways to enjoy bourbon, but in the spirit of keeping things simple on this holiday so you can spend more time with family and friends (or, hey, more time lounging around in your pj's—no judgement!), I'd like to offer two deliciously straightforward recommendations: the Boulevardier and the Gold Rush.
A riff on the classic Negroni, the Boulevardier swaps out gin and replaces it with bourbon for a drink that's a little smoother, a little less herbaceous, and 100% sippable. With its equal parts, the Boulevardier is my favorite kind of drink, as it doesn't require allocating space in my brain for memorizing measurements or ratios.
Shake 1 ounce each bourbon, Campari, and sweet vermouth over ice, strain into a coupe glass, and raise a toast to the U.S. of A.
What sounds like a classic from the days when bartenders sported wax mustaches and arm garters the first time around (that is, the early 1900s) was in fact created by T.J. Siegal for the New York bar Milk & Honey in the mid-2000s. The Gold Rush is another riff on a classic—in this case, the Bee's Knees—and another example of what happens when you replace gin with bourbon. (No hard feelings, gin!)
While there's a bit more effort here—you need to make honey syrup, which basically involves heating equal parts honey and water until the honey melts, and then letting the mixture cool—it's well worth it. The Gold Rush is not only a delicious and refreshing summer drink, it's also easily batchable, so mix up a bunch and enjoy them while watching the skies light up tonight.
3/4 oz. honey syrup (see above)
3/4 oz. lemon juice (fresh squeezed, of course)
2 oz. bourbon
Shake all ingredients with ice and serve over ice in a rocks/Old Fashioned glass with a lemon twist.