Some hate it, some love it, others merely tolerate the lazy heat waves that bounce off every object from April to October. But there is no better time for New Orleanians to sip savory cocktails and relish in the heat.
Personally, I love the heat, but it can slow you down. My adventures naturally steer towards water environments where a quick cooling swim is only a few feet away. Camping can get tricky with the obscene number of rude mosquitos, so traveling to other destinations may be on the agenda. If that's not in the budget (as summer tends to be a high-travel season), then relaxing "stay-cations" happen more frequently than not. A little hotel pool action followed by a night in a cold movie theater? Yes, yes please.
So, summertime provides a multitude of adventures. Whether outside or in, a cocktail can make the most unbearable dog days a bit more manageable. With all the choices, what should you drink?
A few key notes to consider. Even more so than any other season, summertime is tricky when it comes to drinking. Here is what to watch out for:
- Too much sugar: It attracts every insect known to man and will leave the worst of headaches.
- Not hydrating enough: Yes, this is something you should always be mindful of. But especially when the weather is oppressive and you're still knocking back ice cold ones to stay cool, consider how your body will feel like beef jerky in eight hours. Drink water, too!
- Three ingredients max: For your many adventures, make sure your drink is portable. Recipes with four pieces of fruit, a liquor, a vermouth, and ice are all fun to make for your backyard extravaganza, but they are completely impractical and stressful if you are on the go.
So, with that being said, here are my top cocktails for summertime adventures:
Old New Orleans Rum let me test-drive the newest batch of Gingeroo and the special 200-milliter bottles. Although heavier than a more practical container for hiking, this is perfect for floating down rivers, car camping, tailgating, or brunches. Gingeroo is also my go-to hangover cure. The ginger extract pops right out of the bottles and kick-starts your metabolism again. It's made with ONOR's crystal rum and has an ABV of 10 percent. It's so easy to stockpile multiple bottles of this and have a refreshing cocktail with zero effort. It's basically everything I'm about.
Recipe for Extra Dark and Stormy:
- 1 ¼ ounces dark rum
- 4 ounces Gingeroo
- ½ ounce lime juice
- Crushed ice
Combine all ingredients into a cup of your choice and enjoy.
OR, put Gingeroo directly on ice. Seriously, it's that delicious.
Gin and Tonic
Although we now rarely worry about malaria (thank you, Zika and dengue fever), the de facto medicinal distribution methods from the likes of Burmese Days hold a commemorative place in the summer cocktail list.
This is a classic for all the right reasons. Light enough to sip casually while perspiring long after the sun has set, but sturdy enough to get the job done. True tonic has more sugar than I sometimes need in the heat, so I can substitute for soda water or diet tonic. It's not the same, however. So, belly up to the seasoned drinker side of the bar and order your first with true tonic and lime.
Recipe for The Perfect Gin and Tonic:
- 1 ¼ ounces Beefeater Gin
- Tonic water
- Lemon and lime wedge
- Cubed ice and Collins glass
Pour gin into glass and top with tonic. Enjoy!
My dear sweet friend, tequila: silver, gold, anejo, reposado, even mezcal (tequila's close cousin). The options are limitless. It's a more discernable base than most people are used to, but honestly, you can mix this just about any way you want it. When it gets a little cooler, I make a tequila Manhattan with anejo. While camping or hiking, I bring a flask of mezcal straight up because it needs no other flavors. Tequila is a perfect vessel for my third rule: when in doubt, add lime, a sugar base, and sip contently.
Recipe for a Paloma:
- 2 ounces Tres Agaves silver tequila
- ½ ounce grapefruit juice
- Slice of lime
Combine all ingredients into a highball and enjoy.
Because no one needs to be asleep all afternoon. Try as I might to seem capable of consuming any liquor, a quote from my aunt is always present, "It's cool to drink. It's not cool to get drunk." Right or wrong, I love her sentiments. Drinking high-proof cocktails while battling heat and fatigue is a surefire way of losing your cool or debilitating your body for a couple of days. Stick with a few of these, and you can keep up with the best of us at all-day cookouts and still get up in the morning. My favorites are the Americano: Campari, sweet vermouth, soda water; "mimosa" (you know why I'm putting it in quotes, you bottomless brunch-lovers); and a Rosé Spritzer (now commandeered by the Frosé, but that has too much sugar for me to drink all day).
You may not be out exploring the side trails of national parks (or maybe you are!), but remember to keep summertime cocktails easy enough to take with you anywhere. It's summertime, so keep it simple.
Recipe for an Americano, of course!:
- 1 ¼ ounces Campari
- 4 ounces sweet vermouth
- Club soda
- Grapefruit peel
Combine Campari and sweet vermouth into a Collins glass, garnish with the grapefruit peel, and enjoy.