As the mercury nears triple digits, the world is divided into two types of people: those who enjoy and embrace the warm weather by stepping outdoors and catching some sun, and those who shy away from it by taking refuge indoors near the cooling comfort of the air conditioner.
My pedigree's of the former. I've always enjoyed the sun, even the triple-digit heat. Maybe it's because memories of the previous cold winter — and trepidation about the one looming around the corner — serve as constant reminders to enjoy the good weather while it's here. While everyone I know has made it plain to me that my view is a bit extreme, I know one thing that everyone can agree on: When it's hotter than the devil's undies outside, an ice-cold beverage can be a game-changer.
With that beautiful image in mind (the ice-cold beverage, not the devil's undies), here are a few classic, summer-appropriate cocktail recipes that should make the warm weather more palatable.
• 2 ounces gin
• ½ ounce maraschino liqueur
• ½ ounce fresh lemon juice
• 1 barspoon crème de violette (optional)
tools: shaker, strainer
glass: chilled cocktail glass or coupe
Shake ingredients with plenty of ice and strain into your glass.
The Aviation is one of the last great pre-Prohibition cocktails, having been created just a few years before the passage of the 18th Amendment. By 1930, however, crème de violette (a liqueur made from violet flowers) started becoming scarce, and eventually defunct, so it was dropped from the Aviation recipe altogether.
To the delight of cocktail nerds like myself, crème de violette has again become available, which will enable your Aviation to take on the sky-blue hue. But truth be told, it's not an essential ingredient in this cocktail. It adds a violet hue and a lightly floral top note, but if you can't get hold of any, I wouldn't fret over it.
Summer is not truly summer without a tequila-based libation. One of my favorite tequila cocktails is a lesser-known classic called El Diablo created by Trader Vic, the man who helped pioneer the Tiki drink craze that swept America in the 1940s and 50s.1940s and 50s.
• 1 ½ ounces silver tequila
• ½ ounce crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur)
• ½ ounce fresh lime juice
ginger beer to top
tools: shaker, strainer
Place everything except ginger beer in an ice-filled shaker. Shake the devil out of it and strain into a glass filled with ice. Top with ginger beer and give it a light stir.
So what libation do you turn to when it's so hot that you barely want to lift a finger, let alone break out the cocktail shaker?
The answer is the Americano. It was originally called a "Milano-Torino" when it was first served in the 1860s, but it eventually became known as the Americano due to its popularity among Prohibition-fleeing Americans summering in Italy.
A bittersweet combo of Campari, Italian vermouth and soda — suffused with a red-orange hue reminiscent of an old Vespa — the Americano is so simple to prepare that it decries precision. Plus it's low in alcohol, so you can drink all day without a worry.
•About an ounce each of Campari and Italian vermouth
• seltzer or club soda to top
• lemon twist (if you're prone to fanciness)
tools: nothing more than a stick to stir with
Place a few large ice cubes in your glass; add the Campari and vermouth; top with seltzer or club soda and twist the lemon peel into the drink; give a light stir and enjoy!
When the weather becomes unbearably hot, it's good to know you can rely on drinks with a long track record. That's what makes them classics: They've stood the test of time, and in this case, the test of summer's heat as well. So mix yourself an ice-cold cocktail, head to your porch, backyard, balcony or fire escape, and take in a little sun. You'll see it ain't so bad after all.
Payman is a mixologist and cocktail consultant for Life's a Cocktail; his weekly "Happy Hour" column appears under the name "Paystyle" every Wednesday on the food blog Umamimart.firstname.lastname@example.org