Sunday, June 22, 2008


I'm not much of a drinker, but I ask you, is there anything nicer than something cool and alcoholic on a hot day? With summer here and ice moving from our driveways to a bucket stuffed with Coronas or a tall, condensation filmed glass, I started reflecting on my favorite summer beverages.

Back on the prairies, when I was 16, the forbidden drink of choice was a vile concoction called Applejack, basically equal parts grain alcohol and apple juice. Somehow the ingredients were always available without having to go through official channels and what we'd do is mix up a bunch, pour it in a gallon jug and let it get real hot, sitting on the railway trestle over the creek where we used to go skinny dipping.

The process from there got almost as complicated as the contortions Patio barkeeps go through nowadays to invent new martinis they can name after their establishments. You'd get up on the trestle, knock back a mouthful of Applejack and dive in the water, swallowing as you hit the icy surface, so cold liquid was enveloping the outside of your body as a hot one rolled down your throat. The sensation was amazing.

Thinking back, it's a miracle any of us managed to surface.

By my 17th summer, I was working on a construction crew and when four o'clock rolled around, the other (of legal age) guys would camouflage me as we found a darkened beer parlor where nobody looked you over closely as long as the trays of draft kept getting delivered. Hot and dust caked, nothing tasted better than that first chilled "50" or "Red Cap" cutting the parchment out of your throat.

As summers have come and gone, I've drunk wine that's never seen a cork in European vineyards, Sangria made with fresh picked oranges in North Africa and Canada's gift to the world, "The Caesar" sipped from a goblet of carved ice.

I take credit for introducing "The Caesar" to New York. A guest at The Friars Club for lunch in the 70's, I ordered one and the waiter returned to say the bartender didn't know how to make it -- something unheard of in New York. So I gave him the recipe and watched in amazement as he shucked and hand squeezed clams to get the required juice.

I asked him to taste it and by the end of lunch, he was passing them around the room. Trust me, there are no more dedicated practitioners of their craft than New York bartenders.

However, with the rise of the inner tubes, there are tons of places to find recipes to fit your warm weather tastes. Here's one worth trying.

Kick back and enjoy your first summer Sunday.

1 comment:

DMc said...

Wow that drink actually sounds pretty good.