“Utepils” is a Norwegian word. It means “A longing and anticipation for the first beer enjoyed in the sunshine.” Anyone counting down the days until those super fun 20-degree surprise temperature plummets stop happening (please, for the love of our collective sanity, stop happening) has probably been experiencing a lot of utepils this spring.
That first crisp IPA enjoyed on a bar patio while wearing shades is one of the great joys of life – beads of cool condensation on the glass, the sun on your skin, and plenty of evening daylight. But as any vitamin D-deficient drinker knows, the joy of warm weather boozing doesn’t stop with beer. It’s finally time to swap out our catalog of warming spirits and cocktails for their cool, refreshing counterparts.
For gin and tonics, punches, and most anything else
Oh gin, harbinger of warm breezes through open windows and 9 pm sunsets. Second perhaps only to white rum, gin is the most quintessential warm weather spirit out there. It's light, it's refreshing, and its spritely botanical flavors take on and enhance the characteristics of whatever it’s paired with (and it should always be paired with something). Sweet, citrus, herbaceous, tart – it doesn’t really matter. It'll all be fine in gin’s capable hands.
But part of the joy of gin resides in its simplicity, so if the bar cupboard is all but bare, a gin and tonic (or several) is the perfect companion for the lingering twilight. And gin’s economy both in price and in sugar levels make it an ideal partner for that ubiquitous and sorely missed summer hallmark: the punch.
The beauty of punch is that you really don’t need a recipe. Just remember: one part sour, two parts sweet, three parts strong, and four parts weak. As just one example: sour can be fresh-squeezed grapefruit. Sweet is simple syrup. Strong is gin. Weak is champagne. Why these ingredients? Number one, it’s summer in a crystal bowl. Number two, it’s a perfect combination, as the gin will meld terrifically with the citrus notes without being cloying, and add its own notes of juniper to the mix. Champagne contributes a fizziness and more flavor complexity, along with a little more sugar. Just make sure you add a huge ice block to dilute this drink, or your party will be a lot wilder and probably end a lot sooner than you expected.
For sangria, punches, mojitos, or daiquiris
White rum is the poster child for summer drinking for good reason. It’s sweet, it’s mixable, it won’t weigh you down, and it looks really pretty when mixed with fruit and colorful liqueurs.
Whereas dark rum is typically aged in charred barrels, giving it a complex flavor and often a molasses-y heaviness, white rum is far lighter with very little native flavor other than a pleasant sweetness.
By virtue of that fact, it's a great additive to anything you want to make a.) sweeter and b.) boozier. That can be sangria, punch, and other big batch offerings. But we would suggest making one of the delightfully simple and summery white rum classics - the mojito or the daiquiri.
A mojito is essentially white rum, lime, sugar, and mint. There are a couple ways to tackle this:
- Muddle a quarter of a lime with a teaspoon of granulated sugar, then gently introduce and bruise some mint leaves, add crushed ice, two ounces of rum, top with club soda and stir.
- Just add an ounce of lime juice, a quarter or half ounce of simple syrup (for ease of mixing and preventing that nasty granular crunch), then the mint, crushed ice, rum, soda.
We prefer a Collins glass for these, but a rocks glass or highball will do fine in a pinch.
A daiquiri, really, is a mojito without the mint. Combine a half ounce of lime juice, half ounce of simple syrup, and two ounces of white rum in a shaker with a healthy amount of ice, shake it until your hand gets really cold, and strain it into a martini glass. The beauty of the drink is that you can get really experimental without sacrificing the integrity of the drink. Want to throw in some orange bitters, or hell, an orange wedge? Go for it. Want to sub Mike’s Hot Honey for simple syrup? Well, we actually tried that, and it’s ridiculous. In a good way. Spicy, sweet, tart, boozy... what could be better than that?
For margaritas – the good kind
What would a lineup of summer booze be without tequila? Love it or hate it, it’s a warm-weather essential, and so is its smoky uncle, mezcal. They're both born in the sun-scorched plains of Mexico, where the soil is a volcanic dust. The plant that grows in that soil is blue agave, an aqua green ball of spiky leaves. Tequila is made for heat – it doesn’t know anything else.
If the only way you’ve had the stuff is in enormously sweet mixed drinks or hastily chased shots, you're missing out – good tequila doesn’t need to be masked with fruit syrups or huge amounts of granulated sugar.
For a better margarita, think simply and take it easy on the sweet component. The first step is to pick a great blanco tequila. In a shaker, combine two ounces of that with one ounce of Cointreau and ¾ ounce fresh lime juice. Add a healthy amount of ice and shake until your hand starts to freeze. Strain it into an ice-filled rocks glass with a salt rim, and enjoy. Preferably outside.
For any classic whiskey drink
Just because the temperature has crested 40° doesn’t mean the brown bottles have to get stowed for six months. Yes, whiskey is typically characterized as a cold weather drink to keep the fire in your belly burning, but there are plenty of examples of refreshing whiskey cocktails to help you cool off as well.
From the classic whiskey cocktails every guy should know, you've got:
- The Boulevardier, which is essentially a bourbon Negroni.
- The Sazerac, which has helped many a sweaty reveler wander his way down Bourbon Street.
- The Whiskey Sour, which is like a frothier, whiskey-spiked version of lemonade.
If you want something a little more summer-specific, you want a Blood and Sand.
The original Blood and Sand recipe is a piece of early 20th century American history: originally published in The Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930, it’s named after a 1922 silent American film about bullfighting starring Rudolph Valentino. It combines an unlikely cast of characters into a drink that’s a well-balanced mix of refreshing and smoky.
Chill a cocktail glass. In a shaker, combine one part each of scotch, freshly squeezed orange juice, sweet vermouth, and Cherry Heering (a cherry-based brandy.) Add a healthy amount of ice, shake, strain into the glass, and garnish with an orange peel.
For Pimm's Cups, of course
We really couldn’t compile this list without what many consider to be the only must-drink of the summer. Pimm’s No. 1 is a fantastic liqueur with a shiningly complex notes of citrus and quinine and an even better story. Legend has it only six people alive today know exactly how to make it, and a properly made cocktail using the stuff is like the entire summer season stuffed (almost literally) into a single glass.
First, get an obnoxiously large wine glass. Anything that says “I’m going to a bachelorette party” will work. Add some ice. Then add 1 ½ ounces Pimm’s No. 1, ½ ounce gin, ½ ounce dry curacao, and the juice from a lemon wedge. Now comes the signature. Add berries, citrus wedges, mint leaves, green apple – really go for it. When it looks like an Edible Arrangements employee’s first day on the job, stop, and top it all off with ginger beer. Enjoy with a straw and maybe a machete.
As you crank the A/C and fill a few extra ice cube trays in the freezer, we hope that these drinks will help make your warmer months everything they should be. From our patio chair to yours - here’s to a long summer.