Bourbon, Barbecue and American Pie

Tomorrow — today by the time this post is read — restaurants across the country will either close or shorten hours, surrendering the day to backyard cookouts, beach parties and roof top get-togethers that will occupy the masses in celebration of the nation’s birthday.

Picnic tables and beach blankets will be sat without reservations.  Happy hour will consist of cold beers from the cooler and mixed drinks from the neighbor’s blender.  Mood lighting will be left to the recognizance of children with sparklers and the itchy trigger fingers of pyrotechnicians.  Atmosphere: severely loud.  The dress code: dressed down. 

Tomorrow is a chance to revel in Americana.  Most dishes passed at the table will be of comfort, nostalgia and summer revelry.  But even after the last firework fizzles away, the food, the flavors, the aroma, will carry on beyond this month and perhaps the season.

There has been a throwback to American traditional cuisine as of late.  Well, as of late for New York City, which to the rest of the nation perhaps is catching up.  Looking through the blogs yesterday and today, anxious words on barbecue and bourbon could fool one into believing that these things came from another culture or distant land. 

Maybe it’s the embrace of local produce and product that has fueled this movement.  Or maybe it’s that chefs and consumers are just again realizing, as if recalling where they parked the car, that there is a palette of uncanny flavors in their own backyard.

On Wednesday, RI Magazine ran a piece on chef Art Smith of Chicago (former Oprah Winfrey personal chef) who is presenting his memories of southern comfort with nouveau flair, while that same day Time Out New York called attention to the resurging popularity of American whiskeys amongst New Yorkers.  Now what’s more American than southern cuisine and bourbon?

And as evidence, restaurants all across the city are cashing in on the pairing, notably Fette Sau (in Brooklyn) and Hill Country (in Manhattan).

It might be too soon for barbecue/bourbon joints in the city to apply for Relais Gourmand status, but at least for this season, the good ol’ American flavor is strutting chic.

From the Daily Blender, Happy 4TH of July.

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