Monday, July 17, 2006
Stay Cool and Get Plowed - Posted on DCFUD
The next couple of days are going to bring to mind several burning questions, not the least of which is "why in the hell did the Founding Fathers build the Nation's Capital on a swamp?," and, for the purposes of this post, is "how can I beat the heat and drink myself into denying either my existence or the 98% humidity?" As a former bartender, I occasionally get asked this and similar questions, kind of like Barry and Ira, the two ice cream guys in City Slickers, except less about dessert and more about alcohol. However, while the booze is important, the mixer may be more so.
1) When it's scorching, nothing does the trick quite like a good sour mix or fresh-squeezed limes. Most sour mixes are made up of limes, some lemon and an ungodly amount of sugar. However, that dose of vitamin C can really recharge your batteries on a crazy hot day. The margaritas at Lauriol Plaza, Oyamel and the Banana Cafe' are all winners, though Oyamel is closed on Mondays. Now I know how The Boomtown Rats felt, if not Brenda Ann Spencer.
2) Fizzy drinks cut through dry mouth like emo kids listening to Death Cab for Cutie. Drinks made with tonic or soda waters, or ginger ale can keep you sane. Tonic water contains quinine, a potion that helps treat malaria and leg cramps - who knew gin and tonic could classify as medicine? Excuse me while I go self-medicate...
Some bartenders freely swap ginger ale and Sprite, and that's one of my pet peeves, along with people who wear sports gear unrelated to the teams or the sport they're watching. You know what I'm talking about - the dude who wears a Portland Trailblazers NBA jersey at a Washington Nationals/New York Mets basketball game. Gawd I hate that. Along that line, ginger ale is slightly spicy, and should be used to contrast overly sweet alcohols or mixers. Sprite can smooth over strong, sharp drinks with its citrus base. A well-stocked bar will contain both beverages, and the wise mixologist knows the difference. A Jack-and Ginger would taste like refried hell with Sprite, though a splash of Sprite in a margarita made with a sharp tequila like Sauza Hornitos can make it more tolerable for those who like lighter drinks.
3) Ice cream is good; fruit is better. Some people swear by ice cream drinks when the heat's on, and a good frozen mudslide can be a fine idea, but who wants to walk the streets with too much dairy in their gullets? I learned the lesson of Ron Burgundy well when he said on that fateful sweaty San Diego day"Milk was a bad choice."
I prefer more of the lighter, fruit-based frozen drinks on days like today. A Banana Nutbread is an awesome drink but is heavier than Beltway traffic. I'd suggest an old standby - the pina colada - and a tolerance of the Rupert Holmes' song.
For the record - I had no idea that guy had a greatest hits collection, and if I had to guess, it would have come out on cassette single. I figured he did that one song and realized he'd have to play it EVERY SINGLE DAY OF HIS LIFE and just ended it all Budd Dwyer style. Nah, he's a famous writer, playwright and seems to have weird taste in eyewear.
Also, there's nothing wrong with adding crushed ice to an old favorite. A frozen Cuba Libre - a.k.a. rum and coke - is awesome, as is a frozen Cape Cod and Long Island Ice Tea. A frozen Mai Tai is like drinking an adult Slurpee but without that weird spoon-straw thing.
4) Malternative - the term used by the industry to identify drinks like Cider Jack or Bacardi Silver, these beverages, besides having more sugar in them than the Nintendo 64 kid, can really cool you down on a hot day. A Mike's Hard Lemonade usually doesn't suck, and to make them a little more palatable and colorful, pour a shot of a colored liquor like Chambord, Midori or Key Largo Schnapps. Watch the whole beverage change color and provide a bit more kick!
5) Combine them all and make the ultimate summer drink - The Frozen Tom Collins. Sour mix, a good gin like Beefeaters or Gordons, a splash of tonic and fresh lime juice - prevent malaria AND scurvy, get refreshed. I make mine served over crushed ice, and then float a layer of Grenadine, blue curacao or Midori for fun. Using a little umbrella is up to you.
What do you guys like to drink on a hot day? I'll be glad to do some research.