Oh, Fourth of July. Every year you are the ultimate excuse for the ultimate indulgence of all food things American: barbecue, burgers, hot dogs, beer, backyards (or, in New York’s case, roofs and patios), and every year I take you up on your offer.
This year I started extra early (unintentionally) on Thursday night, when I shared an order of dry-rubbed chicken wings and a bacon cheeseburger at Daddy-O in the West Village, along with a pair of one of the best cocktails I’ve had in a really long time:
It’s called the Eastside, and is gin muddled with cucumber, mint and lime juice, shaken and served frothy cold in a martini glass. Really, the ultimate summer refreshment. Just look at all the floating fresh bits! The picture doesn’t quite tell the story, but they were layered, suspended, in the drink at different levels and looked really cool.
The next day, we celebrated the official federal holiday in style with happy hour at Brother Jimmy’s BBQ. There’s one close to my Upper East Side neighborhood, but there are also about a half-dozen other locations around the city. Brilliant happy hour: Between 4p-7p, domestic draft pints (Bud and Bud Light) are $2 and all appetizers are half-price at the bar.
We tried the frickles, deep-fried pickles served with a creamy horseradish sauce; the peel-and-eat shrimp, which are doused in Old Bay seasoning and come with lemon wedges and a zesty, homemade cocktail sauce; and a basket of rib tips, the brilliant discovery of the day.
What are rib tips? As far as I could discern, rib tips are the knobs and ends of the rib rack which are usually chopped off to give a slab of ribs that uniform cut. The result are knobs of bone, fat and meat that have been as slow and as long as the rest of the rack, and that are heavy with meaty bits. Each rib tip takes a little bit of inspection and the willingness to get down and dirty, but it’s worth it: The meat is supremely succulent and tender.
At happy hour, a basket of these bits goes for $4 — a really good deal. Brother Jimmy’s has a Monday night special of all-you-can-eat rib tips, wings and all-you-can-drink domestic beer (2 hours max) for $15.95 that is a great deal, except that I probably wouldn’t be able to finish too many more than the $4 happy hour basket. Oh, but they’re so good. A basket has plenty enough rib tips to sample all of Brother Jimmy’s sauces, which arrive in a rack with any barbecue order. The sauces are lighter and more vinegar-y, as is the way with South Carolina-style barbecue.
On the Fourth of July I found myself in the unusual position of fresh stovetop-grilled hot dog in hand — just as the now-famous Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island was about to begin.
It’s odd to say that I ate my one dog in the time it took these professional eater-bingers to consume 50-plus, but I’m confident I enjoyed it more. No bun dipping in water necessary.
Elsewhere at the party: Pizza, a plate of brownies, plenty of beers and plenty of friends. It was a good holiday.