Drinks for Summer
By Lydia on July 6, 2009 3:20 PM| | Comments (4)
Cutting pictures for belated thank-you notes, I just stumbled upon an out of date New Yorker article on the subject of hangovers. The author, Joan Acocella, makes the excellent point that science really should have found a cure by now, and freely quotes the brilliant Kingsly Amis. The article, though, instead of prodding me toward abstinence, has had the alternate effect, making me dream of all my favorite summertime cocktails. I am hoping that writing about them will quench my thirst for now, leaving my evening free of hangover. I'll get to that in the morning.

If You're Having a Party:
The Mojito:
I must admit my love/hate relationship with this venerable cuban concoction, stemming from how frequently I make them at work. That said, it is a delicious and refreshing combination, and one which is simply made at home, but rather impressive to serve. First off, you don't have to spend a lot of money buying mint at the grocery store, where it costs aproximately one arm and one leg. Instead, pick it up for cheap at the Farmer's Market, or for free at any number of places in town where it grows freely as a weed. My go-to spot is a secret, in case someone decides to care that I take it from there, but I'll probably tell you if you ask me in person. You will need 2 or 3 good sized leaves per drink, or more, if you are using pint glasses.

The leaves go into a glass with half a lime, sliced into quarters, and half a tablespoon of sugar. Using a wooden spoon (or a muddler if you have one, but who does?) moosh the limes to juice and bruise the mint. Contrary to what some restaurants would have us think, you do not want to shred the mint! The alcohol is going to draw the flavor out, and really, the muddling just helps that process along. If you do too much damage to the fruit and mint, you're only looking for bitterness. Add a couple ounces of rum (light is traditional, but dark can be wonderful) and stir a bit to disolve the sugar. If you are using simple syrup, you can skip this step and add ice right away. Fill the glass with ice, top with soda water, stir to mix, imbibe!

A quick note on ice: making drinks at home, many people use just a few cubes per drink, saving space for more liquor. I think it's nicer to ice the drink properly, and have a second. Your proportions will be more accurate, your drinks good and cold, and the second will be as fresh as the first.

If It's Too Hot for Dinner:
The Shandy:
This is basically taking beer with lime one step further. A shandy is a beer/lemonade mixture found under different names in much of Europe and its former colonies. The lemonade is best fizzy, but that can be hard to find in the U.S. (not so at our cottage in canada, where the IGA supermarket brand "Nous Compliments" comes fizzy in cans, even in grapefruit) so sometimes I use frozen lemonade concentrate instead. One spoon of that in the bottom of a glass topped with lager makes a weird twist on a float, but its fizzy and sweet and I love it.

If You Need A Trip To The Grocery Store for the AC
Tinto de Verano/Calimocho:
The preferred drink of spanish teenagers, both these drinks start with cheap red wine, iced. Scandalous!!! The former is topped with Sprite, the latter with Coke. More common in the south of spain than sangria (for the townies, at least) these drinks may sound gross or low-brow, but when it's too hot for pants, who really cares? Besides, I can guarantee that teenage spanish cred is cooler than fancy-pants wine snob cred.

Note: the wine must be cheap!!

If You've Given Up:
My boyfriend says brandy is the perfect drink for summer, because it gets better when it's warm. Of course, he says that in the winter, too. In all honesty, though, brandy can be rad on a summer bike ride along the river. Stick it in you pocket to keep good and warm, but keep the apple juice chaser in your backpack. For a treat, chase with ginger beer.

I hope this lovely day finds all of you well, and that we all avoid metaphysical hangovers in our little indulgences...

i love Calimocho. when i visited spain they would make it in giant 2 liter bottles!

thanks for posting again

ps what is the ratio you use for coke:wine? I remember it being pretty close to 50% of each

i think its about half and half. but when i had it i was drunk in spain, with drunken spanish teenagers mixing. thats kind of the joy of it right?

thanks for reading!

My favorite is mixing sweet black tea, a dash of lemon juice and whiskey. It's delicious, and unless you go way over the top, you can't even taste the booze.