Equipped for Fun
You’ll Have as Much Fun as Your Guests When You Plan Ahead for Last-Minute Summer Get-Togethers
It’s enough to make any Martha Stewart wannabe break out in hives, and it has happened to almost all of us. We get that last-minute phone call from an assortment of friends/relatives/co-workers to tell us they’ll be by in 20 minutes. The call is invariably followed by a panicky sprint to the home bar. The desperate inventory check that follows usually goes something like this: four cans of Schlitz, a jug of white zinfandel best used as fly repellant, and an oddly colored dessert liqueur your eccentric aunt brought four years ago that you don’t dare sample.
And that’s fine … as long as you’re expecting the Three Stooges.
Here’s how you can avoid this nightmare: Listen to the pros.
Andrea Difiore is the wine and store manager at Andover Classic Wines in Andover. Ask her what you should have in your summertime liquor cabinet, and there is no hesitation. “Make sure you have plenty of rosé wine,” she says. “It’s the perfect summer sip — as refreshing as white wine, but with the complexity and depth of a red.”
Difiore adds that specialty vodkas are all the rage these days. Cold River, made in Freeport, Maine, is a blueberry-flavored vodka that is terrific mixed with lemonade, she says. Difiore also likes Square One organic cucumber vodka, which tastes great, even when mixed with simple soda water.
Other items Difiore believes should be part of any serious summer mixology session include Pama pomegranate liqueur, Jose Cuervo tequila for margaritas, and a decent gin for gin and tonic, a summer staple. She prefers London or Hendrick’s gin.
She also says St-Germain elderflower liqueur is always a nice addition to any home bar “because you can do so much with it.” One example: St-Germain, prosecco and limoncello.
Now that’s a summertime drink.
Jay Cahill, store manager at Harrington Wine & Liquors in Chelmsford, has a general rule of thumb for warm weather imbibing. “I don’t really like brown liquors during the summer,” he says. “They’re too warm, and they burn. You like things with a little more of a bubble to them in the summer.”
He does like organic vodkas, however, and is also a fan of cucumber-flavored vodka, which he says “makes a mean bloody mary.” Like Difiore, he suggested Jose Cuervo tequila for margaritas. Both feel that high-end tequilas such as Patrón or Cabo Wabo are wasted when used as margarita mixers.
The same logic applies to white rums, according to Cahill. Bacardi will do just fine for most mixed drinks. Captain Morgan spiced rum outsells its competitors 5-1, he adds, and should be another solid member of your basic summer liquor lineup.
And never overlook sangria in all its combinations and permutations. Cahill suggests a white sangria with a sauvignon blanc base.
Sometimes, though, the old ways are still the best ways.
“There’s nothing better,” Cahill says, “than a nice vodka and tonic.” His favorites for mixing vodkas include Absolut and Ketel One. He uses Belvedere or Grey Goose for martinis and other “purer” drinks.
One last summer beverage tip: Buy a big bag of the gummy critters of your choice (bears, worms, lobsters, etc.), and keep it in the freezer. Whenever you make someone a tall, cool cocktail, such as a blueberry-flavored vodka lemonade or a white port spritzer, plop a couple of the frozen candies into the glass. Then pretend you’ve been doing it for years.
Andover Classic Wines
Harrington Wine & Liquors