Chances are you’ve seen it. In my completely unsubstantiated estimation, it’s been pinned more than any other cocktail in the history of Pinterest: the “Sneaky Beach Cocktail.” And while I appreciate the ingenuity of hiding booze in a Simply Lemonade bottle, I feel that the recipe — pink lemonade, strawberries, watermelon vodka, and coconut rum — leaves something to be desired.
Nothing against those who like their cocktails on the sweet side, but I want to taste my ethanol. Alas, the summer months can be tricky if you love darker spirits and heavier brews. The perfect summer beverage should be refreshing, a little sweet, and cold, but you shouldn’t have to suffer through cloying cocktails filled with flavored vodkas and Crystal Light. You should be able to taste your drink and know it’s for the over-21 crowd, even if it’s served with a tiny umbrella.
Here are my top three favorite beverages to imbibe in when the temperatures soar. I suggest you make it a point to try them all before summer is up!
1. Gin & Coconut Water
As far as writing guidance goes, Hemingway’s “Write drunk; edit sober” ranks pretty far up there. And there’s no denying that he followed his own advice: Have and Have Another is a serious drinker’s book. Written by “Hemingway and cocktail enthusiast,” Philip Greene, this book explores the writer’s drinking habits and offers recipes directly connected to passages in his various books.
It is a delight.
It is said that while entertaining John and Katy Dos Passos, Hemingway “invented a new drink, made by boring a hole in a fresh coconut, pouring in six or eight ounces of gin, and sipping the mixture through a straw.” Say what you want about his prose (so much fishing!), but the man knew how to drink. Gin & Coconut Water is an ideal summer beverage – coconut water is very hydrating – it’s simple, refreshing, and devoid of synthetic fruit flavors and cloying syrups.
It’s also quite stealthy; if you need your beach drinking to be kept under wraps, you can always sneak it on the on the shore in a Vita Coca box. Though Gin & Coconut Water may seem simple, it’s actually brilliant.
Gin & Coconut Water
2 oz. London dry gin
4 oz. chilled coconut water
Add ingredients to an ice-filled glass. Stir. Garnish with a lime wedge.
[Photo: Carey Palenchar]
2. Cherry Bourbon Buck
When you think “refreshing,” you probably don’t immediately think “bourbon.” But if you’re a bourbon lover, you probably don’t want to give up your favorite liquor just because the sun has decided to assault you all day. My favorite way to dress bourbon from late May to early September is with fresh cherries and good quality ginger ale (I like Reed’s – it’s sweetened with honey and pineapple juice).
Cherry Bourbon Buck
2 oz. bourbon
5 oz. chilled ginger ale
3 fresh cherries, pitted
Muddle the cherries in the bottom of a highball glass. Fill with ice. Add bourbon, top with ginger ale, and gently stir to incorporate.
[Photo: Foodtastic Mom]
3. The Paloma
Crave something margarita-like but don’t want to subject yourself to violently green options loaded with sugar? May I suggest The Paloma.
Combining grapefruit and lime, The Poloma is bright and refreshing, with grapefruit supplying the perfect balance of sweet and bitter. Salt the rim to provide electrolytes – they’re much needed on hot summer days.
2 oz. tequila reposado
½ oz. fresh lime juice
Grapefruit soda (preferably San Pellegrino Pompelmo)
Kosher salt (for the rim)
Rim a highball glass with kosher salt. Add lime juice and tequila to glass. Fill with ice. Top with grapefruit soda and stir gently. Garnish with grapefruit slice.
What are your favorite ways to imbibe during the summer? Do you love that Sneaky Beach Cocktail? Or do you just say fuck it and guzzle red wine from the bottle?
Claire is a freelance writer living in Florida but will soon be moving to Oregon to escape the sun’s deathly rays. Follow her on Twitter!
[Image of bourbon via Shutterstock]