Three Cheers for the Red, White and Booze on Flag Day

Food & Drink

There’s one patriotic holiday that, frankly, needs more love. Flag Day (June 14) gets lost in the shuffle between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. Is that any way to treat one of the most iconic symbols of freedom? That’s why we’re doing our part to give Flag Day its own official cocktail: the Red, White and Booze. This drink is both delicious and refreshing, not to mention slushy. It looks a bit like the childhood favorite Bomb Pop, so that equals a lot of fun. So bust out the blender, invite some of your favorite Americans and get ready to celebrate Flag Day in the best red, white and boozy style.

What to use
6 cups of ice (three trays)
1 cup tart cherry juice
1 cup Blue Curacao
1 cup vodka
1 cup fresh lemonade

How to use it
In a blender, on the ice crush setting, blend together the cherry juice and 2 cups of ice until combined and slushy. Set aside. Next combine the Blue Curacao with 2 more cups of ice and crush until slushy. Set aside. Last but never least, take the vodka and combine with lemonade and 2 cups of ice ice tray and crush until slushy. Set aside. Layer drinks, then top with some red, white and blue sprinkles, some red and/or blue fruits or a flag on a toothpick. Makes about 4 servings.

PRO-TIP: This cooing cocktail goes perfectly with a hot day and an even hotter grill. Invite the friends over, cook up some stuffed burgers and get the patriotic fun started.

The New York Times once referred to Flag Day as a “runty stepchild among American national holidays.” That’s sad. Especially since honoring the American flag seems like it should be a real cause for celebration, a no-brainer, right? But becoming an official holiday wasn’t a straight shot for Flag Day and the history of the holiday is a weird mix of politics and patriotism. Could this be the reason for some of the apathy directed towards this day? Let’s investigate. Or because no day off?

Flag Day commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on June 14, 1777, thanks to a resolution of the Second Continental Congress. In 1916, POTUS issued a proclamation establishing June 14 as Flag Day and finally, in 1949, National Flag Day was set by an Act of Congress. So basically the birthday or adoption of the flag.

Originally, flags (and Flag Day) had very different meanings than how we see them today. Despite the high level of patriotism floating around in 1776, when Old Glory was designed, flags were considered military items, used as markers of federal territory, buildings and ships. So back then the flag wasn’t really something your average American on the street might want to celebrate. It really wasn’t until the Civil War that it started to be seen differently. It was originally proposed for a holiday in 1861, only a couple of months after the start of the war (and therefore a high moment for patriotic feelings).

But it still didn’t stick, despite the large sums of money being made from flag sales—consumerism, the American way! It took the dawn of WWI—yet another period where patriotism ran high—for the notion of the flag as a banner for all Americans to take hold. So while many people look to the Revolution for our love of the flag, it really took much longer for this symbol of patriotism to fly. Pun wholly intended.

In addition to the Second Continental Congress, the President and an act of Congress, different people and organizations were instrumental in establishing Flag Day as a national celebration. In 1895, Bernard J. Cigrand, a teacher at the Stony Hill School in Waubeka, WI, held the first formal observance of Flag Day—”Flag Birthday.” He placed a 10-inch, 38-star flag in a bottle on his desk, then assigned students essays on the flag and its significance. This moment began Bernie’s lengthy pledge to create national recognition and observance of Flag Day. He continued to advocate for its observance over the years, penning numerous magazine and newspaper articles and public addresses to make that happen. His dream came true at the age of 50, when President Wilson issued the proclamation for nation-wide Flag Day observances. Right on, Bernie.

The earliest reference to the suggestion of a “Flag Day” is cited in The Kansas Cyclopedia of State History, which in 1912 credited The Hartford Evening Press, with suggesting the holiday in 1861. This led to its formal observance of the day in Hartford with calls for patriotism, prayer and the preservation of the Union.

Patriotic celebrations would just seem wrong without Benjamin Franklin being involved. And while he had absolutely nothing to do with Flag Day, in 1893 his descendent and Pennsy resident Elizabeth Duane Gillespie tried to get a state resolution passed requiring the flag to be displayed in Philadelphia’s public buildings.

Teachers seem to have really loved the idea of Flag Day. New York teacher George Balch had his class celebrate the day in 1889. This idea went over big with the State Education Board, eventually leading it to be adopted for the whole state of New York. It is unlikely that Lady Liberty issued any protests.

The Elks are never ones to be left out of a celebration. In 1907, the fraternal order/social club designated June 14 as Flag Day and has celebrated it every year since. They even made it mandatory for all lodges. These guys are serious. (Not a member of the Elks? Eat some elk instead!)

So, how can you celebrate Flag Day? Well, start by flying a flag, of course. The week of June 14 is considered National Flag Week, so you have a full seven days to unfurl your stars and stripes. Perhaps you want to take a trip to Bernie Cigrand’s old school or the Star Spangled Banner Flag House in Baltimore or the Betsy Ross House in Philly. And of course, don’t forget to toast some friends with a Red, White and Booze. Cheers.