How To Throw A Nostalgic Fourth Of July Party

Get nostalgic with your Fourth of July menu

So you're thinking of winning this July 4 by smoking a whole brisket or exploring the world of churrasco. We applaud you.

But if you're coming to our house, we'll be giving the people what they want: updates on the classic staples from our childhoods. Yep, we'll be basking in a menu of hot dogs, snow cones and s'mores pie. Come with us on a trip down memory lane.

A haute dog. "Hot dogs are not just about the flavor, which, of course, is important, but they're great because of the memories they bring about," Josiah Citrin, chef of Melisse in Santa Monica, California, tells us as he recounts memories of eating Dodger Dogs at baseball games as a child with his grandfather. In addition to a two-Michelin-starred restaurant, Citrin opened a franchise of Dave's Doghouse in L.A.'s Staples Center to serve hot dogs to the masses.  

So what makes the perfect dog? "I look for something that will create a nice balance," Citrin says. "For example, there needs to be a balance between the sweetness of the relish and the acidity and tartness of the mustard. The proportions have to be exactly right, because you don't want it to overpower the hot dog and bun, but you do want to add an extra dimension of flavor."

We took this advice to heart when developing the official TT hot dog (see the recipe). Instead of a squiggle of fluorescent yellow mustard and jarred relish, fresh honey mustard bridges the gap between one side of spicy pickled jalapeño relish and another of fried pickle chips (see the recipe). Not only are the hot dogs now a combination of sweet, salty, meaty, cheesy, spicy and tangy, but you'll have some extra pickle chips (or "frickles" as we call them) to serve on the side.

It's OK to eat this yellow snow. Who doesn't remember having a good snow cone on a hot summer day? "Snow cones are one of the quintessential summer childhood treats!" Christopher Buckley, owner of Branch Ofc. in Brooklyn, says. "They bring to mind beaches, carnivals and innocent fun, when your cares were few, and satisfaction and joy could be found in a paper cone."

Buckley takes snow cones and gives them an adult twist by spiking them with booze, such as mescal with sweet lime syrup or aged rum with pineapple syrup. "In contrast to a snow cone's nostalgic nature, it's important to pick adult flavors for an elevated, boozy taste," Buckley adds.

We couldn't agree more, so we created a snow cone version of our favorite summer cocktail, the Aperol Spritz (see the recipe). A bright ginger-and-mint syrup is balanced by bitter Aperol for a refreshing adult topper to shaved ice.

S'more to love. "I went to camp for my entire childhood, so I grew up on s'mores," Mindy Segal, author of Cookie Love and owner of Mindy's HotChocolate in Chicago, says as she reminisces about getting toasted marshmallow stuck in her hair. While Segal loves to make fresh graham crackers and marshmallows for her s'mores, we chose to explore a world without the mess of the campfire—that's why we went the pie route. Chocolate ganache fills a graham cracker crust, only to get topped with crunchy toffee pieces and fresh marshmallow (see the recipe).

"I look for the perfect ratio of chocolate to marshmallow to burnt marshmallow," Segal explains. Taking that to heart, our pie has an almost equal ratio of chocolate to marshmallow. We're just trying to give our guests s'more to love.