Patriotic Cocktails, Part 1: The Betsy Ross

This Independence Day, set yourself free from garish red-white-and-blue cocktails by mixing up some patriotic drinks whose taste as well as appearance honors the spirit of the holiday. In this series, I will explore some off-the-beaten-path adult beverages for your July 4th party.

When I was a wee lass, my parents regularly took me on daytrips to Philadelphia to visit historical sights, such as the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. My mom, always the ardent second-wave feminist, was keen to impress upon me that this country was built not just by the Founding Fathers but also by a whole lotta women, many of whom didn't make it into the history books.

Thus, one of the first attractions we visited was the Betsy Ross house. Though most well-known for being credited with sewing the first American flag, Betsy Ross was also sort of a badass. She was disowned by the Quakers for eloping with an Episcopalian, assembled munitions for the First Continental army, served at one time as George Washington's personal seamstress, and outlived all three of her husbands. I think it's fitting we raise a glass to her this Fourth of July with the cocktail that bears her name.

The Betsy Ross

  • 1.5 ounces brandy
  • 1.5 ounces ruby port
  • 0.5 ounces triple sec

Combine all three ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into pre-chilled martini glass.

Sweet and heady like the woman herself, the Betsy Ross cocktail is often recommended as a post-prandial libation. I think, however, its robust fruit flavors and high alcohol content make a good complement for dark meat dishes like veal parmesan and lamb skewers. Or, if you're going the traditional cookout route for July 4th, pair it with bleu cheese burgers and baked beans.

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Joanna O'Leary