Fourth of July recipes can be so fussy, instructing you to carve watermelon baskets, make precise stripes of fruit on flag-shaped desserts, and whip up elaborate, food coloring-tinted layer cakes. Yeah, definitely not my thing!
Enter these spritzers...er, sparklers. (See what I did there?) A cocktail with two ingredients, made right in the serving pitcher, with a cute fruit garnish for a little patriotic flair? I’ll take it!
For one of my summer jobs during college, I worked on a catering team for winery weddings in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The work could get tiring and sweaty, carrying heavy hors d’oeuvres trays and serving dinner under the summer sun in slacks, button-down shirts, and black ties.
The best gig you could get at one of these events was bartending. There was no hard alcohol, so you didn’t need any actual bartending experience to qualify. It was so nice to just stand in a shaded spot for a stretch, pouring sodas and wine for anyone who sidled up to the bar. The most complicated drink I had to pour was a wine spritzer (just lemon-lime soda plus white wine). I never drank one that summer — predictably, there was no imbibing allowed on the job, though I did get to take a few nice bottles home here and there!
It’s been almost a decade since I worked those winery weddings, and it only now occurred to me to make wine spritzers at home. It couldn’t be simpler to mix up a pitcher of these for a backyard party — a bottle of white wine and a liter of lemon-lime soda make up the entire cocktail ingredient list.
Perky blueberries and star-shaped slices of watermelon bob festively in the drink, transforming the spritzer into a holiday-appropriate sparkler. They also make for tasty edible garnishes to gobble up once you’re done sipping.
A note on the wine: since you’ll be mixing it with just lemon-lime soda, you’ll want to use a drier variety to offset all that sugar. If you can, go with something aged in steel casks rather than oak, as that’ll make for a cleaner, crisper finish and less complex aromatics to compete with the soda.
I used the 2013 Fumé Blanc from Dry Creek Vineyards, which hit all the right notes. It has a clean finish and minerality, with aromas of Meyer lemon and Kaffir lime. Anything dry and citrus-forward would be perfect — a Chenin Blanc or Vinho Verde would be a nice option as well.
Cheers, and a happy 4th of July. I’ll be toasting to all of you at a beach barbecue, sparkler in hand. I hope you all have some great holiday plans!
4th of July Wine Sparklers
Serves 6 to 8
2 cups watermelon stars
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 bottle chilled dry white wine such as Fumé Blanc, Chenin Blanc, or Vinho Verde
1 liter chilled lemon lime soda, such as a SodaStream mix, Sprite or 7UP
Place the watermelon stars and blueberries in the bottom of a 1-gallon pitcher. Pour in the white wine and soda, and gently mix to combine. Serve with a few fruit pieces in each cup.
To up your garnish game, thread a few blueberries and a watermelon star onto bamboo skewers and place in individual serving glasses.
Keep the fruit and liquids in the refrigerator until just before serving so the drink is nice and cold.