Independence Day is a time to reflect and celebrate with family and friends. Traditionally, cookouts and fireworks top the list of activities for the Fourth of July. Being that it is usually one of the nicer times outside during the year, Minnesotans really like to spend the Fourth outdoors and celebrate the summer as well. What pairs better with a party than a delicious beverage? This year, keep it safe and fun and enjoy one of these refreshing non-alcoholic cocktails designed by a Minnesota bartender.
Laura Johnson-Peterson
Minnesota School of Bartending
2426 University Ave. W
St. Paul, MN 55114
(
612) 333-6692
www.mnschoolofbartending.com

Laura Peterson, former bartending instructor, believes a traditional cocktail contains only spirit, sugar, water and bitters. Any additions or subtractions to this list moves the drink out of the cocktail category. However, with so many fresh fruits and ingredients available during the summer, it is much more fun to widen the definition of a cocktail and invite all tastes to the table. With a 20-year history of bartending, Laura has been able to produce delicious concoctions that everyone, no matter what age,  can enjoy on the Fourth of July!

Melon Slush

This recipe makes a batch of deliciousness for large-volume parties or a punch bowl full of refreshment to bring to the cookout. Use fresh melons for the most delicious version of this drink. Adding club soda gives the recipe some light effervescence for a celebratory beverage. The following recipe makes four one-cup servings:

2 cups of cubed melon (cantaloupe and honey dew)
1 can (6 ounces) frozen orange juice concentrate
3/4 cup club soda
Fresh mint sprig for garnish

Combine melon and orange juice concentrate (slightly thawed) in blender until smooth. Add in club soda. Serve over ice and garnish with a mint sprig.

Minnesota Egg Cream

Originating in New York, the classic egg cream contains neither egg nor cream. A drink designed for the kids of Brooklyn who couldn’t afford treats from the ice cream truck, the egg cream became so popular that neighborhood soda jerks started serving them as well. The Minnesota version adds a touch of the midwest with vanilla simple syrup.

2 tablespoons vanilla simple syrup
1/2 cup whole milk
2 heaping tablespoons chocolate syrup
1/2 cup chilled seltzer water

In a tall glass, stir all ingredients well to combine. Serve with a straw and long spoon.

Lavender Freedom Punch

Nothing says summer more than aromatic lavender and fresh citrus. Add in some sparkling grape juice and you have a light and festive cocktail.

One bottle of sparkling white grape juice (25 oz)
12 oz club soda
2.5 oz. honey
10 fresh lavender sprigs
3 fresh oranges, sliced

Slap and rub lavender between your palms and set in a punch bowl filled with club soda and honey to infuse. Wait an hour before adding the rest of the ingredients and stir lightly so as not to lose the bubbles. The orange slices will float in the punch bowl and add some zest to your concoction. Serve over ice and garnish with rosemary sprigs if desired.

Related: Best Bars With Infused Vodka In Minnesota

Red, White, And Blue

As Americans, we have the freedom to consume a ton of sugar during special occasions or whenever we want to. This punch recipe combines the sweet flavors of citrus and fruit with the sugary carbonated spices of ginger ale. Adding sherbet also provides a level of creaminess to this delicious punch of flavor.

Makes 40 (1/2 cup) servings!!

1 can (46 oz) chilled pineapple juice
1 can (46 oz) chilled orange juice
1 pint raspberry or strawberry sherbet, softened
1 pint lemon sherbet, softened
1 pint blue raspberry sherbet, softened
1 bottle (1 liter) ginger ale, chilled

In a fancy punch bowl, combine pineapple and orange juices. Add scoops of sherbet and pour ginger ale over the entire mess. Mix gently and serve immediately.

Related: Best Cocktail Bars In Minnesota

Andrea Wodele is a freelance writer who has lived in the Twin Cities for the last 10 years. Her hobbies include exercising, driving kids around, watching Minnesota sports, and reading self-help literature. Examiner.com.
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