Happy Fourth of July

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It’s the Fourth of July, at least in Melbourne anyway – the US should be catching up in about eight hours. But if you want to get the jump on the fireworks and flag waving there’s a heap of different ways to do it around Melbourne this Monday.

1. Eat Cereal and Candy
Anyone who’s been to the US can testify to the jaw-dropping selection of cereals and candy their supermarkets have to offer. From Count Chocula to Reese’s Jumbo Peanut Butter Cups, there’s a sugary something for everyone. Melbourne’s best selection is to be found at USA Foods (146 Cochranes Rd, Moorabin), while for something closer to town try Costco (381 Footscray Rd, Dockands).

2. Eat Everything Else
While there’s plenty of burger joints around Melbourne, the Gasometer Hotel (484 Smith St, Collingwood) offers the widest and tastiest range of American bar food, from pulled pork and ribs to corn bread and fried chicken. There’s also an excellent selection of vegetarian and vegan options, great beers on tap and an open fire. In the city Hoboken Cafe (3 Hosier Lane) serves up red beans and rice plus a range of hearty Prohibition-era grits, while Trunk (275 Exhibition St) and Misty’s Diner (105 High St, Prahran) do classics like burgers, fries and super-sized shakes.
For something a little fancier try the Stars and Stripes night at Union Dining (272 Swan St, Richmond) where an A-Team of chefs including Nicky Riemer (Union Dining), Aaron Turner (Loam), John Paul Twomey (Cutler & Co), Daniel Wilson (Huxtable), Yen Yee & Bernard Chu (Luxbite) and Andrea Riess (Chez Dre) will prepare American-themed dishes and desserts (tickets $160 + booking fee www.toyscollective.com).

3. Drink Beer
Some people dismiss American beer as light, watered down drafts like Bud and Miller. That’s like saying all Aussie beer is either VB or Carlton Light. Over the past decade the US has led the craft brewery movement, and remains the most exciting place for new beers and brewing techniques. Beer Deluxe (corner Swanston and Flinders St, Fed Sq) is the place to try them, and they’ll be offering American food and beers all week in honour of July 4.

4. Drink Cocktails
In addition to craft breweries, cocktail bars have been popping up all over Melbourne in recent years. And while I remain skeptical they’ll ever take off here like in the US (where cocktails typically cost under $10, as opposed to the $20 mark here) it’s nice to have another option beside beer and wine. The newest is Bar Americano (20 Presgraves Place, Melbourne). They’ve got a liquor license from 7am and serve ten classic cocktails, including the ubiquitous Americano. Go between 4pm – 6pm and you’ll score free bar snacks that’ll have you chanting USA, USA in no time.

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