NEW YORK CITY — Though summer officially kicks off in late June, for many the Fourth of July is the inaugural celebration of the season.
DNAinfo New York found decoration suppliers, drink and food recipes — and no-cook options — for hosting a fabulous Fourth of July party on any budget. We even scouted the best fireworks-watching spots to cap off your festivities.
Keeping food simple but well-thought-out is the key to any great Fourth of July barbecue or party, according to Chef Julian Alonzo from the Lower East Side-based Neuman's Kitchen. In other words, now's not the time to try out that complex recipe for the first time.
Chef Alonzo's tips:
► "If you prefer not to grill during the party, cook the chicken and ribs about 30 minutes before guests will arrive, then transfer both to a roasting dish, cover with foil and place in a warm oven (200 to 225°F) until you're ready to serve. To prevent the meat from drying out, keep chicken and ribs in the oven for no more than an hour."
► "If the wind is blowing, fill a few clear bottles with water and add a couple drops of red or blue food coloring and place the bottles on the edge of your tables. These table weights are a clever way to keep your tablecloth in place," he said.
►Don't forget to stock up on propane and charcoal so you're not running out to the store in the middle of the party!
Fresh, in-season vegetables are another great way to bring color to your red, white and blue party's spread.
DNAinfo's own Tom Liddy, author of the recipe column Make This Tonight, offers a cherry tomato salad dish that has both a sweet taste and a savory tang. If you don't have access to a grill, Liddy also has a recipe for making glazed ribs in the oven.
If you'd rather outsource cooking for the party, Neuman's Kitchen's Chef Alonzo created a Fourth of July menu that's available to order à la carte.
Alongside the typical party refreshments — craft beers, white wine spritzers, sangria and the like — whip up a Fourth of July-themed specialty cocktail to take your party up a notch.
Here's a drink recipe that comes from Jacob's Pickles, which will serve the drinks in-house through early July.
Strawberry Balsamic Bourbon Smash from Jacob's Pickles
2 hulled strawberries
2 pieces of cucumber
1/2 oz. of honey syrup
1/8 oz. of balsamic vinegar
2 oz. bourbon
Shake and strain into a glass and serve on the rocks. Garnish with a strawberry.
Throwing a Fourth of July party doesn't have to mean reinventing the wheel, because tradition is appreciated and expected, said John Michael, an in-house designer for the city shop Gracious Home.
Keep it "easy and breezy" with red, white and blue decor, while weaving in fun touches, Michael said. For example, adding nautical accents works well because it makes the party feel summery.
Michael's top decorations picks from Gracious Home include:
► Red, white and blue paper straws that harken "back to the good old days." $8 for 25.
► Flag toothpicks that dress up a cheese platter or a bowl of fresh fruit with a patriotic look. $3 for 20.
► Go crazy with flags for kids (or adults) to wave and stick them in house plants, cakes or the sash of a hat. $0.99 for a 4-by-6-inch flag. $1.99 for an 8-by-12-inch flag.
► String up a chain of mini paper lanterns for some added mood lighting. String of 10 lights, $24.99.
If you're on a tighter budget, Party City has locations on West 34th Street, West 14th Street, at Atlantic Center in Brooklyn and in Long Island City, with plenty of holiday supplies.
Our Party City picks include:
► Patriotic parasol picks to serve in a minty mojito. 24 for $1.99
► A red plastic tub for lugging beers up to your rooftop and then keeping them on ice. $14.99 for a 17-gallon tub.
► American flag paper ice cream cups. To look on your game with minimal effort, serve vanilla ice cream topped with blueberries and raspberries in these festive cups Eight 8.5-ounce cups for $2.99.
► Tissue paper pom-poms strung up in red, white and blue are a steal because they can be reused at other parties. When hung from the ceiling, they make a small space look larger by drawing guests' eyes upwards. $6.99 for three 16-inch tissue paper balls.
The Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks show is happening on the East River this year, for the first time since 2008.
The show will be launched from the Brooklyn Bridge and barges along the lower East River.
Great places to watch include:
► Brooklyn Bridge Park, piers 1 to 6. Note that there are no alcoholic beverages allowed, except in designated areas. The park is open until 1 a.m.
► The promenade in Brooklyn Heights. Take the 2/3 train to Clark Street and head toward the waterfront for a great viewing location. The promenade is considered a public park so no drinking is allowed there either.
► Those looking for a more exclusive viewing party with booze can enjoy drinks and a three-course meal at Prime, the kosher restaurant atop the Bentley Hotel at 500 E. 62nd St., for $130 per person.
► Manhattan viewers can watch from along the FDR, between the Manhattan Bridge and Montgomery Street, at the Manhattan entry to the Brooklyn Bridge between St. James Place and Wagner Place, and at the intersection of Broad and Water streets.
► In Long Island City, you can post up at the Z Hotel at 11-01 43rd Ave. for two nights and enjoy views from their rooftop while you sip patriotic cocktails.