Songs of Summer Sip-Along
Drink pairings for classic warm weather tunes
All photos by Amanda Schuster
What songs makes you think of summertime? Much as we often change what we drink during the warmest season of the year, we also tend to listen to music a little differently too as we wait for the BBQ coals to heat up, splash around in the water (or take a cold shower after a long day in the heat) or watch the sun sizzle into the horizon and cast those vivid hues into the sky. Naturally, as Independence Day, the first official summer holiday approaches, this got me thinking about what to drink with some of the season’s most iconic tunes.
This boppy post punk track is an upbeat welcome to all the festivities of the season. One of the things I always go for if I’m at a backyard or rooftop gathering is a good rosé kept on ice. I like to contribute an easy drinking, refreshing and affordable rosé bubbly, such as Les Dauphins Sparkling Cuvée Rosé ($15) from the Côtes du Rhône, which won gold in the 2019 NY International Wine Competition.
No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks. School’s out for summer! This is where anything you drink from a paper bag or a box is acceptable, if not encouraged. I’d go for a tall boy. Try Founders All Day IPA or Anchor Steam Lager. This is not to say either of those choices show lack of class or principles.
“Summer in the City” by the Lovin’ Spoonful, 1966
“Heatwave” by Martha & the Vandellas, 1963
By midsummer, the concrete feels like walking on hot coals, especially on treeless streets where there “doesn’t seem to be a shadow” and it’s “hotter than a match head.” After a long walk along a baking river park, I stopped into the bar West Village bar/restaurant Katana Kitten, where they serve a frozen Margarita variation called Rubyfruit with a genius port float. As Martha & the Vandellas sing it, it’s the way love’s supposed to be. Co-owner and head bartender Masa Urushido was kind enough to share the recipe, which also includes a low waste tutti frutti cordial made from the bar’s spent citrus peels and herbs.
1.5 oz tequila blanco (the bar uses Olmeca Altos Plata)
1 oz tutti-fruti cordial (recipe follows)
3/4 oz lime juice
1/2 oz ruby port float
shichimi salt (salt mixed with Japanese shichimi spice) for glass rim
garnish: seasonal fruit or cocktail cherry
Rim double rocks glass with salt. Add all ingredients except port to blender with plenty of ice. Blend until smooth. Pour into glass. Pour a layer of port around perimeter of drink. Garnish.
Tutti Frutti Cordial
Says Urushido, “We save scraps of peels, herbs and fruits from prep, and those used during and after service, and keep them in the freezer. We add an equal weight of sugar to this to naturally make its oleo saccharum. Some fresh fruit juices are added to make this house special, flavorful sherbet.” Alternately you can take the peels of 4 - 5 lemons or mixed citrus, combine it with 1/2 a cup of sugar and let it sit for at least an hour. The oils in the citrus naturally create a flavorful, fragrant syrup to use in individual drinks or to sweeten a punch.
“Sun is Shining” by Bob Marley, 1971
Some of the most torrential storms of the year happen at the height of summer, and I often get this song in my head in those moments when the rain dissipates and fallen drops sizzle in the hot sunshine. “To the rescue, here I am,” sings the late Marley. It’s time for a Daiquiri (see recipe here), preferably one made with a good quality Carribean rum. Ten to One is new on the market this season, produced and bottled with no added sugar. I like the light rum with its higher proof than the dark, perfect for sipping that drink into the next downpour. Or staying somewhat on that bent, I might try a whiskey sour made with the new Basil Hayden’s Caribbean Reserve Rye, finished in rum casks.
“Summertime” by George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward, from Porgy & Bess, 1935
Listen to the lyrics carefully, especially when Sam Cooke sings it. This is sung to a soul whose living situation is anything but easy, but there is hope. A fitting tribute has an element of bitterness, but is still easy to drink, like this orangey riff on an Americano with a splash of robust coffee liqueur.
Till That Morning
.75 oz Copper & Kings Destillaré Intense Café coffee liqueur
Fever Tree Spiced Orange Ginger Ale (gold medal, mixers category, 2019 NYISC)
Add Aperitivo and coffee liqueur to rocks or Old Fashioned glass. Add ice. Stir to chill. Add soda to top and stir once or twice again. Serve.
“Sunny Afternoon” by the Kinks, 1966
When the tax man’s taken all my dough (or freelance payments are late, ahem) and I need saving from this squeeze, some of the most affordable, yet high quality wines to reach for are from Portugal. I love a touriga nacional red with BBQ, especially burgers, but as a sunny day porch pounder to laze on a sunny afternoon, a zippy white is the way to go. Casa Santos Lima, who won Vinho Regional Lisboa Producer of the Year in the 2019 NY International Wine Competition, makes a ridiculously flavorful and elegant-tasting white blend called Lima Lab that’s only $6 (I know!) AND it has a cute black pooch on the label. On the days I’m more up for wee a splurge, Esporão’s Reserva White 2017 ($20) has the aromatics of a much more expensive French Sancerre, with added textures of fresh peaches and pears.
“Gin and Juice” by Snoop Dog, 1993
For when it’s 2 in the morning and the party’s still jumpin’...
I like Rosie Schaap’s laaaiiiiid back (and not overly sweet) version, via The New York Times
2 ounces dry gin (the seaside botanicals in Gray Whale Gin from California almost turns this drink into a Salty Dog!)
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ½ ounces ruby grapefruit juice
½ ounce simple syrup
grapefruit wedge, for garnish
Shake gin, lime juice, grapefruit juice and simple syrup with ice. Pour, with the ice, into a highball glass. Garnish with a wedge of grapefruit.
“Blister in the Sun”, Violent Femmes 1983
The traditional versions of this cocktail call for dry, oxidized styles of sherry such as amontillado or oloroso with the addition of sugar or simple syrup in the drink, but using a Pedro Ximinez (PX) sherry eliminates the need for any more sugar, since it’s made from the ripest, sweetest, most raisinated grapes left out in the blistering sun of Jerez, Spain. You can prepare the drink simply with citrus and crushed ice, but since it’s summer, why not take advantage of the produce of the season and add fresh berries or even some sliced peaches? Plus the low ABV won’t make you, as the Femmes sing it, high as a kite, to let you go on to strut your stuff.
PX Sherry Cobbler
3.5 oz PX sherry
2 - 3 orange slices, handful of mixed berries, 2 - 3 slices of fresh peaches (or a mixture)
Mint sprig and citrus for garnish (optional)
Gently muddle the fruit at the bottom of a shaker, then add sherry. Shake until well-chilled. Strain into julep cup or tall glass over crushed ice. Mound more ice over the top. Garnish if desired. Sip through straw (preferably an environmentally friendly one).
“Summertime Blues” by Eddie Cochran, 1958
The cure for this affliction? Don’t raise a fuss, don’t raise a holler. Make a periwinkle-hued gin sour! The butterfly pea blossom in Empress 1908 Gin from Victoria Distillers naturally creates this stunning, summery color in the spirit and lends a pleasantly earthy finish.
2 oz Empress 1908 Gin
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz honey syrup made from wild clover honey (1:1)
garnish: lemon wheel
Dry shake (no ice) all ingredients for 15 seconds. Add ice to shaker, then shake vigorously until well chilled and frothy. Pour into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish.
Quick 45” singles
“Cruel Summer” by Bananarama, 1983: Anyone who can pull off wearing paper bag waist pants or leather overalls gets a free banana Daiquiri on the roof! Watch the video again to see 1980s NYC in the days of gas stations and pay phones.
Anything by the Beach Boys: most beaches are banning alcohol these days, or at least anything in a glass bottle. Good thing there are now quality boxed and canned wines these days. I’m especially liking the ones from Bridge Lane from the North Fork.
“Summer Babe” by Pavement, 1992: In theory, it’s a cocktail mixed with a plastic tipped cigar.
“Boys of Summer” by Don Henley, 1984: Empty lake, empty streets, the sun goes down alone. Nothing like a good sip of bourbon to watch the setting sun. And never look back.