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How to Host the Ultimate Fourth of July Party

4 minute read

As we combed the country for reasons to celebrate America right now, we also decided to take the idea of celebrating quite literally—by putting together the ingredients for the best Independence Day bash ever.

With a drink recipe from Carla Hall, a menu by Mario Batali and tunes by Alexander Wang, you should be set for the Fourth and for many summer celebrations to come.

See more of TIME’s Reasons to Celebrate America Right Now here

The Drink

KitchenAid? Culinary Demonstrations - STAGES/BOOK SIGNINGS - 2015 Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival
Carla Hall attends the KitchenAid Culinary Demonstrations during the 2015 Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival on February 21, 2015 in Miami Beach, Fla.Ilya S. Savenok—Getty Images for SBWFF

Carla Hall’s quencher
Everyone loves a frozen drink in the summer, and this one is easy to prepare for large groups. It’s a mocktail made with fresh lemonade and iced tea, garnished with mint and a lemon wedge. It’ll be sure to cool you down, and it pairs well with barbecue—and, of course, fried chicken!

Frozen Arnold Palmer Serves 4
For the lemonade, combine:
1 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cups simple syrup (equal parts water and granulated sugar heated through until dissolved)
1 cup water
Pinch of sea salt

For the iced tea:
Use the Classic bottled tea by Owl’s Brew, or steep any English Breakfast tea in hot water for 3 to 5 minutes and let cool.

To build:
Blend 1 cup ice, 1 cup iced tea and 2 cups lemonade. Pour into glass, and garnish with fresh mint and a lemon wedge. (Adults can always spike it with vodka.)

Hall is the owner of Carla Hall’s Southern Kitchen and a co-host of  The Chew

The Food

2016 Food Bank For New York Can-Do Awards Dinner
Mario Batali attends the 2016 Food Bank For New York Can-Do Awards Dinner at Cipriani Wall Street on April 20, 2016 in New York City.Paul Zimmerman—WireImage/Getty

Mario Batali’s Southern feast
This Fourth of July at the Batali household will be all about regional Americana. Though you could go in many different directions with that concept, in my opinion the strongest culinary tie from the past to the present is in the Deep South. Think fewer hot dogs and hamburgers, more shrimp and grits. The execution takes more time, but the results are spectacular and well worth the added effort. So let’s celebrate the South and America’s birthday with a traditional Charleston Oyster Roast. It’s less of a recipe and more of an event. You’ll need a fire. A big steel plate. A shovel. Some wet burlap. A bushel of oysters. Beer. A bunch of friends. Can you re-create the experience on a smaller scale? You can try! And here’s how:

Oyster roast Serves as many as you can get
Fire up a grill and cover the grates with an old baking sheet or two. Close lid and let them get blistering hot. Get an old towel or a piece of burlap and soak it in hot water.

When the baking sheets are hot, dump a pile of oysters on them. You can have more than one layer, but spread them out. Cover with the towel, but keep it over the pan(s) so it isn’t exposed to the fire. Close the grill and let the oysters cook for about 5 minutes.

With tongs, carefully remove the towel and move the oysters to a waiting table lined with butcher paper or newspaper. Arm everyone with an oyster knife and open from the hinge end. Eat straight from the shell, with a little lemon, butter or vinegar. You will eat many more than you thought you could.

Batali is a chef and restaurateur. Recipe adapted from the forthcoming Mario Batali—Big American Cookbook (Grand Central Publishing)

The Music

2014/2015 International Woolmark Prize U.S.A Regional Awards
Alexander Wang at Milk Studios on July 14, 2014 in New York City.Monica Schipper—Getty Images

Alexander Wang’s soundtrack
Being with friends in the summer makes me want to re-create the old-school Cali vibes from where I grew up. Movies like How High and Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood were my inspiration for this mix of R&B and hip-hop. It’s great for the afternoon, but easily segues into a chill night.

The playlist
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince “Summertime”
Trina “F-ck Boy”
Jay Z “Can I Get A …”
The Pharcyde “Passin’ Me By”
Fugees “Ready or Not”
The Roots “You Got Me”
The Pharcyde “Runnin’”
Aaliyah “Back & Forth”
Mariah Carey “Fantasy”
Brandy “I Wanna Be Down”
Next “Too Close”
Blackstreet “No Diggity”
Monica “Don’t Take It Personal”
Lil’ Kim “Crush on You”
Dr. Dre “Let’s Get High”
2Pac “California Love”
Trina “Da Baddest Bitch”

Wang is a designer and Apple Music curator

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