Like everything else, drinking is all about context. At night, in a bar, or at home, adults should have straight up martinis or a few fingers of scotch, neat. During the daytime, there is much more room for interpretation. All sorts of interesting cocktails are available for this most noble diurnal activity. Rum runners are good, if you’re on a tropical beach, or near a pool, or have a tiki torch in the backyard. A pitcher of fruit-filled sangria is never out of place at a barbeque or book club meeting. Fresh squeezed lemonade in a frosty carafe with a fun flask of vodka for spiking is perfect for picnics in the park on a blanket under a tree with cold fried chicken and pesto pasta salad. At brunch, it’s all about spicy bloody marys and sparkly mimosas, of course. And a summer afternoon at Saratoga or Santa Anita, betting on the ponies, in the cheap seats acting like big shots, demands a mint julep.
I first became acquainted with beer cocktails while living in Mexico. The chelada, a light beer, with a splash of lime juice and a sprinkle of salt is a great re-hydrator after a night of dowsing yourself with tequila shots. You sip it while sitting under a cabana, snacking on chips and salsa, contemplating palm trees and everything. I have firsthand knowledge that this elixir will actually keep your brain from oozing out your ears. I first discovered white Belgian ales when I was twenty-three or so, living with friends in an up and coming part of Brooklyn. There were hordes of kids our age, fresh from college, bright and bleary, out every hour of the weekend, especially in summer when New York is ripe. At cocktail hour we often found ourselves at a sidewalk slope café, waiting for plans to coagulate. A crisp and frothy European beer with a wedge of lemon or orange floating on top was my gateway drink to a night of fast moving delights. Those years are all behind me now, with neither regret nor relief. These days I look forward to a quiet hour alone in the sun, a good novel, watching the kids gleefully chasing each other on the grass. And this is the beverage for such idyllic moments.
- 1 bottle white wheat beer
- 2 shots peach schnapps
- Juice of 2–3 oranges
- Slowly pour beer into a large glass or mason jar. Measure in shots. Add juice and garnish with orange slice. Drink! Salud!