Layered Patriotic Punch

News flash:  July is next week.  Say whaaaa??  (Do I say that at the start of every single new month?  Yes, yes I do.  Apparently I need to figure out a way to slow down time.  I’ll get right on that.)  Since Independence Day is at the very beginning of the month, it seems to always sneak up on me.  Luckily, it’s not too hard to pull things together for a holiday centered around patriotism, explosives, and all things red, white, and blue.  I first saw these drinks years ago, in an alcoholic version.  Since I don’t drink alcohol, I started googling to figure out if that was an integral part of the chemistry involved.  Lucky for me, it’s not!  These appeared a while back in Family Fun Magazine and have made the rounds on Pinterest as well.  People are always impressed by them!

The principle here is that liquids with lower sugar contents will layer on top of those with higher ones.  This is actually a fun thing to do with kiddos where you can actually teach them a little science as you do it.  You can really use any drink products, you just have to take note of the sugar content on the nutrition label.  Generally my family doesn’t buy sugary drinks, I actually think full sugar soda is a horrible habit (I mean, if you’re going to chug that much sugar, wouldn’t you rather have it in the form of a cookie??) but fun holiday drinks are usually an exception.  And if it’s something you’re concerned about, just keep in mind, only one of your colors is going to be sugary, and you’re using very little of it, so all-in-all these drinks aren’t too shabby calorie-wise.

So take a little walk down the beverage aisle at your grocery store.  Reds are pretty easy to find, there’s cranberry juice, cranberry/strawberry/cherry flavored sodas, Hawaiian punch, etc.  And for your white, any clear colored diet (sugar free) soda will work.  For the blue, you have fewer options- often just Gatorade, and blue Hawaiian Punch.  Here’s what I found to be easiest. For my red this time I used these two (just to experiment with both), Hawaiian Punch and Cranberry Sierra Mist.  Both work great.

For our blue we did Gatorade; it’s important you look at the labels, it just has to have a little sugar in it.  This G2 Gatorade just had a few grams and it was perfect.

For our white, we used diet Sierra Mist, because it happened to be on sale 🙂  I did experiment with trying some different combos to get a “white” as the middle layer, but I had zero luck, so just stick to layering the red and blue.  To be honest, the white ends up kind of blending in, but I do think it makes everything taste better so I say use it.  If for some reason you’re happy with just a red and blue, the ice does add white and that looks great too.  Speaking of ice…

Target has these cute ice trays in their dollar section right now. You can also grab them from Amazon!

And they make the cuuuutest little star-spangled ice cubes!  If you’re going to use them, note that these drinks take quite a bit of ice so you better get a few trays and start making ice a few days ahead of time.  Or just mix some stars with your fridge ice.  Also, drive to Target as soon as you’re done reading this post because the dollar section always sells out after we post recipes involving items from there!

To make the drinks, fill your glass up all the way to the top with ice.  If you’re making these for a party, you’ll probably want to stick with short glasses.  Start with your red (or whichever has the highest sugar content) and fill up the glass 1/3 of the way.  When you pour your next two layers pour them slowly, right over an ice cube, down the side of the glass.  This will help keep the layers separated.

Finish off with your top layer and you’re set!

One idea I’ve seen floating around is lining the rim of the glass with pop-rocks (Pop.  Firecrackers.  Get it?)  I experimented on a little mini glass and while it’s cute, I don’t think it’s at all worth the hassle.  When Pop Rocks get wet, they start popping, so they sort of make a big sticky mess. It also makes it way more labor intensive to fill up the cups with ice and layers, etc.  Cute though, right?  Don’t be fooled… PS, the Pop Rocks in the blue package are actually green.  Why Pop Rocks, why?!

I like to serve these with straws, because they taste best (I think) once they’re mixed up.  These cute red ones are from Orson Gygi– and I like that they sell them in big packs of 50 since usually you only find small bags of paper straws.

Definitely something fun to put on your to-do list this Fourth!

Another thing to put on your to-do list?  Go to Anguilla.  If that doesn’t work out for you today, then at least check out the Sea Cuisine site where my travel features will be launching this week!  Here’s a link to my page where you can find lots of photos I snapped on my trip.

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.


Sara Wells
Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. Thanks, my nieces and nephews will love this, and I LOVE the fact that there is someone else out there who doesn’t drink alcohol !

  2. Do you remember where you found the version with the alcohol? I’ve been searching but can’t find it! Or maybe you’ll know, if I wanted to do these with alcohol, would I just make it in the bottom layer since it would have a lot of sugar?

    1. Michelle, if you just google, “Red white and blue cocktail” you’ll find a bunch! I know one recipe is ½ ounce Grenadine, ½ ounce Peach Schnapps or Vodka, and ½ ounce Blue Curacao (poured in that order). But really, just do a quick google search and you’ll see lots!

  3. Cute photos!! I have actually made these (in other colors) as part of a science day at a local school when they wanted to learn about the science of cooking (and then featured them as part of my kids cooking series).

  4. Hey, if anyone can’t find the star ice trays at Target cause their “sold out”, check out Walmart. They have them also, under $1. I’ve also seen them at Dollar General. Cute idea. Love these drinks. I’ll definitely have to try it. Thanks!

  5. Have you ever tried making this in a punch bowl? We’ll have a lot of guests and making individual cups might take a long time!

  6. I made these last year and they were a hit! SO fun! A tip for the pop rocks if you still want to try them is to take a little carmel/butterscotch ice cream topping and dip the rims of the glasses/cups in that and then the pop rocks! They don’t seem to pop as much! Anyway it worked for us! (Just make sure you dip “lightly”) 🙂

  7. These are such a neat idea for the 4th! Will be getting to Target tomorrow for the ice trays and different drinks!

  8. I must admit it ranks up there among one of the most unique blog ideas I have ever seen.

  9. My uncle actually did a version of this for my wedding 25 years ago. He used a lemon-lime soda base, a full strength red fruit punch flavored syrup at the bottom, then a little green syrup mixed at half strength. The entire drink was topped with a scoop of rainbow sherbet. It looked amazing and was pretty tasty.

  10. Thank you for posting this! I have wanted to make them since I celebrated Independence Day in California, but forgot the recipe. Now, to try to make them Canadian…

  11. Since you’re sugaring the kids up, couldn’t you just use a colored sugar from the decorating aisle to put on the rim? And I love the trays. So cute!!

  12. I think these are so fun! One question, though. Does the white layer have to be a diet soda? I have an allergy to the artificial sweeteners in diet sodas and would love to be able to make this and still drink it. Any suggestions?

    1. I wondered the same thing. We don’t do artificial sweeteners at all either (for health reasons, so bad for you!) And anything that’s “sugar free” will have artificial sweeteners. But I love this idea! I may have to experiment with some other drinks and try to find another combo that varies enough in density to layer. I’ll post it if I come up with something….unless someone else has found a way!

  13. I told my kids we’d try to do a science experiment every week this summer and this will be perfect for next week! I already went to target and got my ice cube trays. Thanks for the tip.

  14. omg these are so cute!! I love love love them. I’m thinking about adding a little liquor in here to make it an adults only beverage. so fun!

  15. Fun post to read, Sara. So you and Oprah seem to have the same effect on the world. She with her book reviews (or anything else for that matter) and you with your dollar section recommendations at Target! I guess I better get over there right away!
    I will have a house full of grandchildren for the fourth, so we’re going to add this to our list of things to do/make! Thanks!

  16. LOVE that you added star ice cubes!!!!

    I haven’t tried this out yet, but it’s happening on the 4th. My son will LOVE it!!