Summer means sippin’. Sure, everybody
has to re-hydrate regularly with that delicious Whistler water, but when that’s
taken care of, it’s time to turn to something even more refreshing.
Beyond the traditional cool brewski
(what else could be the summer cooler of choice with Brew Creek in the
neighbourhood?), options are about as limitless as your imagination. We had to
concoct a quick celebratory toast recently and came up with that delicious
Langueuil peach beverage from France (nice and peachy and not too sweet) with a
good splash of Rosemount Traminer Riesling and a slice of ripe strawberry for a
special touch. Yummy, and a festive step beyond a white wine spritzer.
Not that there’s anything wrong with
a wine spritzer. In fact, I think they’ve been wrongfully overlooked in the
booze-bubble where the martini still reigns in any permutation but “dry.” Don’t
be cheap — use a nice wine. Acidic and crisp, and splashy looking with a wheel
or two of lemon or lime dancing amongst the bubbles, a white wine spritzer can
turn around a hot summer afternoon.
Likewise a shandy, or “shandygaff” as
it was first called in England (possibly from London vernacular of the day for
a pint of beer, a “shant of gatter” — from “shanty” for “public house” and
“gatter” an idiom for “water”). Originally it meant an equal mixture of beer
and ginger beer. One of the first references to it was in the June 4, 1888
where it was dubbed one of the
Shandies aren’t so new-fangled
anymore but they’re still popular in Europe, especially in England and Germany.
Create your own by mixing beer with the best ginger beer money can buy, or a
good tart lemonade. Usually it’s half-and-half, but adjust the ratio to suit
your taste. If you really want to chill out, pop in a few ice cubes, maybe with
fresh mint frozen in them, and horrify your best brew buddies.
If you want to have more fun with the
classics, check out Mark Kingwell’s new book,
Classic Cocktails, A Modern
. Not only will you learn how to mix
up the real thing, Kingwell places each drink in cultural context, be it in
film, art or literature. Here’s a sampling:
: I remember going out with an “older man” in San Francisco
who knew how to live right. He insisted I try a “kir royale.” I wasn’t big on
drinking alcohol at the time, but one sip made me rethink that.