It was a long, difficult spring and summer is looking rough. The pandemic is far from over and we can’t let down our guard or our masks yet. We have much work ahead to learn to be more activeIy anti-racist and we must do all we can to push for change in November as a start. I don’t know about you but I need a drink. I actually felt too stressed to do a lot of drinking this spring but as I start to take some deeper breaths, I am craving some slightly buzzy refreshment. I have two requirements for summer cocktails – they need to be lighter than those we drink in cooler weather and they must be easy to make. Summer days get so warm that anything we imbibe needs to be cold and refreshing and when you are trying to stay hydrated, the last thing you need is an alcohol bomb. Save those for longer, colder nights. As for easy, keep it simple; You don’t want a long list of ingredients to measure out when you are already hot and thirsty!
My favorite summer drinks are heavy on tonic, soda water or some kind of citrus juice, cut with Prosecco or a light amaro and rarely include whiskey (which at other times of the year would be my base liquor of choice). One great summer cocktail is an Americano, equal parts Campari and sweet vermouth with fizzy water and a slice of citrus. The bitterness of the Campari is balanced by the sweetness of the vermouth (and vice versa) and the soda water lightens and brightens up the whole thing. The vermouth you choose will determine the flavor as some are sweeter and more one-dimensional while others are more layered and distinctive. My current faves are all Spanish: Atxa (complex and herbaceous), Priorat Natur (balanced and rose-like) and Vermut Lustau (sherry based and full of botanicals) although good old Martini & Rossi works just fine in a mixed drink, if that is what you have on hand. You can play around with the proportions depending on whether your preference, the classic being a one to one ratio. I tend toward more vermouth while my husband likes more Campari. If you want less bitter altogether, substitute Aperol for the Campari (although just plain Aperol and sparkling water is delicious, especially with a big wedge of orange). You can also vary the amount of soda water from a splash to a generous pour. And I wouldn’t say no to a sprig of mint for freshness. What could be more American, in a good sense, than an eponymous drink composed from imported ingredients which, when combined, create a whole that is greater than its parts? And if you happened to squeeze the orange, lemon or lime slice/wedge before adding, so much the better. To healthier and cooler days ahead!