Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What I Will Drinking This Summer

One of the frustrations of magazine writing is the feckless fluctuations in the endless "best of" lists. I don't mean the "Best of 2011" type articles. Since each of those deal with a separate year, it makes sense that the honorees would be different from list to list. No, I mean the things like "Best French Fries in New York" or "Best Pizza in New York," where Di Fara tops the list one year, but Totonno's emerges triumphant the next. What? Di Fara suddenly went sour in that twelve-month period, leaving room for Totonno's to sneak onto the throne? Where was Totonno's the previous year, if it's so good? It stunk the year before, and now it's great? 

Of course, the magazines do this because they can't just print the same damn list of the same damn suspects year after year, can they? Even if that would be telling the actual truth, it would would be too boring. But this seeming editorial necessity breeds factual fraudulence. 

I bring this up because last year I posted an item titled "What I Will Drink This Summer." I considered I doing the same thing this year. But, then I thought, well, I'll probably just be drinking the same things. It's not like Gin & Tonics and Pimm's Cups stopped being tasty and amazingly refreshing summer quaffs. I'm not going to leave them off just for novelty's sake. So, what I've decided to do is compose a similar but slightly altered list. It includes a number of things I listed last year, because I still drink those things every summer. But there are a few additions, things I've discovered since then, as well as some adjustments to previous entries.


Southside. When the weather starts getting warm, this is usually the first summer drink I order. I think I had my first in May this year. One has to be careful asking for them in cocktail bars. A few errant souls serve them up in a coupe. I know there's room for argument here, but this mix of gin, limes, sugar and mint is a sipping drink, not something you throw back. It's best served in a high ball over ice. The colder the better

Pimm's Cup. I still opt for ginger ale over lemon soda. But I've since found that, if I make it with homemade, fresh lemonade, it's damn good. For a variation, I like the Spy Cup over at Northern Spy Food Company in the East Village.

Gin and Tonic: I put this classic drink in the "new" category last year because I was making them last summer with Beefeater Summer, a new expression of the London dry gin made with hibiscus, elderflower and black current. Alas, they discontinued the Summer this year, so I can't use it. But there's always regular Beefeater, so who's complaining. I always make my G&Ts with either Plymouth or one of the classic London Dry Gins (Beefeater, Bombay, Taqueray, etc.) I've tried many of the so-callled new-world gins. Most of them just don't play well with tonic. They're too soft, or too oddly flavored.

Rose: My favored label of last summer—2009 Channing Daughters Rosato di Refosco, made in Long Island with a Friulian grape variety—has fallen off the list, because the 2010 isn't nearly as good. I recently took a trip to South Africa, so I've been turning to Mulderbosch's reliable rose, drawn from Cabernet Sauvignon, a lot. I was also pleasantly surprised by the Washington State-born Charles and Charles 2010 rose, made from Syrah.


Becherovka and Tonic: I cited this last year, and then was embarrassed when the Czech liqueur didn't appear on the U.S. market as scheduled. But now it's safely on the shelves. So try this winning concoction. It's addictive, and wonderfully different.

Cocchi Americano: Now one year old in the U.S., and I still can't get enough of it. It's Lillet with bite, with extra personality. Drink it straight on the rocks, or with some soda water and an orange slice.

Zucca Rabarbaro: I've grown fond of this rhubarb-flavored aperitif from Milan, which reached these shores just last fall. Drink it as the Milanese do, over crushed ice, half Zucca, half soda water. Lovely.

Americano Cocktail on Tap: You can get this mix of Campari, sweet vermouth and soda on tap at the new bitters bar Amor y Amargo in the East Village. The taste is fantastically fresh. I've never had one better.  

Aperitifs in General: In researching my recent article on aperitifs for the Times, I became so attached to these light before-dinner drinks that now they're pretty much all I drink. For the life of me I can't imagine why anyone would indulge in a heavy, alcoholic cocktail, or big, red wine, in warm weather. Give them a rest until the fall. 

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