Summer Drink List

Summer Drink ListJames Poulous and Rod Dreher weigh in with their recommended adult libations for the summertime. Not surprisingly, since these things are mostly a matter of personal taste, there’s significant disagreement in the lists.

Poulous touts the wonders of Red Stripe, Jamaica’s national beer, while Dreher advises readers to eschew brew altogether and stick to wheat beers if they can not. I drink Red Stripe pretty much only when I’m in Jamaica and do indeed prefer wheat beers when it’s hot. I don’t share Dreher’s aversion to Hoegaarden but do agree there are better choices. I’m particularly partial to Ayinger, Magic Hat’s Circus Boy, and Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat.

I second Poulous’ recommendation of Limoncello, a delightful Italian liqueur, but tend to reserve it for after meals. It’s not something I’d sip throughout the day.

I’m with Dreher on rosé wines during hot weather; I tend to avoid them otherwise. Inexpensive German Qualitätswein, ranging from drier Rieslings to Liebfraumilch to Spätlese are also excellent on hot afternoons.

I find grapefruit too bitter, so have never tried it mixed with gin. Is there an similar substitute?

UPDATE (Alex Knapp) I couldn’t help but chime in here with my favorite summertime drinks.

First and foremost is, of course, the mint julep, which is not only the perfect summertime drink, but it is arguably the pinnacle of American cocktails.

I’d also like to defend the mojito, which James Poulous unfairly maligns in the article linked above:

Learn and move on. Even if the mojito you’re served is perfect, at this point you’re really pigeonholing yourself as someone about to be lapped on the fashion track. You’re probably still working your way through the last season of Friends on DVD, aren’t you?

This just made me bristle. Not only is a properly made mojito refreshing, but it was the preferred drink of ERNEST HEMINGWAY. It’s not some Johnny-come-lately drink. It’s a classic and deserves to be treated as such.

In addition, a properly made martini is always a nice cold drink. And at the risk of sounding elitist (apparently the greatest sin of our age), let me state for the record that a martini is properly made with gin, not vodka (unless you’re making a Vesper), and does not have any fruit or dessert flavors added to it. I was recently at a restaurant which devoted a whole page to “martinis”, which contained over 20 drinks. None contained gin, none contained vermouth, and only TWO contained even vodka. To which I say, how can ANY of those drinks be properly classified as a martini?

But I digress.

Other classic cocktails for the summertime include the Tom Collins and the Old Fashioned, both of which are perfect for summer evenings.

I’ll second James on recommending wheat beers, and if you’re in the midwest I’d recommend Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat, and to New Englanders I highly recommend Wachusett Summer. Any other beer recommendations are welcome.

FILED UNDER: Entertainment, Uncategorized, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jim says:

    Just to be clear Hoegaarden, while consisting of wheat is a separate class of beer than those you mentioned. Hoegaarden, like Blue Moon is is Belgian style wit beer (wit for white, not for wheat). It’s unfiltered and spiced–and I’m not much of fan either. Just want to do my part keeping our apples with our apples and our oranges with our oranges.

    As far as the gin is concerned, obviously orange juice is a good grapefruit juice substitute, but I would recommend just sweetening up the grapefruit version with grenadine or similar alcohol-friendly syrup or just plain bartenders sugar.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Hoegaarden, like Blue Moon is is Belgian style wit beer (wit for white, not for wheat).

    Ah! I drank a lot of wits while in Amsterdam a couple years ago but just assumed that it was their derivation of “wheat” rather than “white.” Unfiltered beer and wheat beer have a similar consistency and taste range.

  3. James Joyner says:

    Hmm, Wits are in fact wheat beers. They’re just a subset with a different brewing style.

  4. Barry says:

    “I find grapefruit too bitter, so have never tried it mixed with gin. Is there an similar substitute?”

    Squirt, or Diet Squirt.

    Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

  5. Jim says:

    Your right of course, wit beers are a subset of wheat beers but stouts are subsets of porters and Belgian triples just another kind of ale and India Pale Ales are basically English pub ales with more hops. Substantial stylistic differences in recipe foundations are important for comparing one beer to another. At least, in my, very, very humble opinion.

  6. Jim says:

    I love squirt. And…there used to be another grapefruit flavored soda that had the words “Ruby Red” in the name…it’s what introduced me to Ruby Red Grapefruit juice (the only kind I drink). I don’t remember the manufacturer though, or if they still make it.

  7. Boyd says:

    I find grapefruit too bitter, so have never tried it mixed with gin. Is there an similar substitute?

    How about good ol’ tonic water?

  8. bains says:

    I agree on the Rose, but would also recommend sparkling wines to the list.

    Instead of gin, use vodka (it’s called a greyhound), it dilutes the bitterness of grapefruit juice without adding the distinct, and in the case of grapefruit, distracting flavor of gin. Save the gin for one of the most refreshing summertime beverages, the traditional gin and tonic.

    Then there are the plethora of “boat drinks” ranging from the sublime Meyers and OJ to the exotic PainKillers (Rum, Pineapple juice, cream of coconut, orange juice and nutmeg).

  9. rodney dill says:

    Gin and Tonic for the mixer

    Bell’s Oberon (Wheat Beer) with an orange slice for a beer.

    Bell’s is located in Kalamazoo MI and makes some very good brews, that I prefer over most national brands.
    -Two Hearted (IPA)

  10. G.A.Phillips says:

    I recommend Egg Shen’s magic potion, the favorite drink of liberal judges, see what do no one else can see do what no one else can do, huge buzz.

  11. Triumph says:

    I find grapefruit too bitter, so have never tried it mixed with gin. Is there an similar substitute?

    Gin martinis are my go-to summer drink.

    But if you want some juicy goodness, I suggest an Income Tax:

    1/4oz Sweet Vermouth
    1/4oz Dry Vermouth
    1oz gin
    Juice of 1/4 orange
    dash of bitters

    Combine ingredients into a shaker full of ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Serve with a thin slice of orange.

  12. Grewgills says:

    I prefer Wieckse to Hoegaarden for a Witte beer.

  13. James Joyner says:

    I prefer Wieckse to Hoegaarden for a Witte beer.

    We got a bunch of those while we were in Aruba and I didn’t care much for them. The spice just didn’t agree with me. I prefer Celis White (made by the guy who invented Hoegaarden) to either of those.

    Bell’s Oberon (Wheat Beer) with an orange slice for a beer.

    They’re hard to find in bottles around here although I’ve had them at restaurants. Quite good.

  14. John Burgess says:

    Don’t like white or wheat beers. Too sweet for my palate. I do like various dark beers–of late, I’m enjoying Yuengling’s Black & Tan and Negra Modelo. Definitely prefer dry ales when the heat starts to stack up.

    Vodka is simply a sissy drink, unless you’re Eastern European. It’s for people who don’t like to taste anything other than the candy they mix it with. Vodka, taken in shots right out of the freezer so that it’s almost syrupy, is another matter. Nothing goes better with caviar.

    Gin is it. The original Bloody Mary and Screwdriver both called for gin. Gin & Tonic is excellent for the summer; Martinis are a bit of an overkill, though nice in cooler times.

    Yes, for Limoncello; yes for Mojitos; yes for Tequila & Tonic.

    If grapefruit is too bitter (not for me), then cut it with orange juice. Add grenadine or simple syrup (as noted above) if it’s still too bitter. Or, make the bitterness the thing of it by cutting it with tonic. Bitters (not the English beer by that name) is an entire class of alcoholic drink that includes dry vermouths, Richard, Pastis, etc.

    And for something surprisingly refreshing, add Ouzo or Pernod to lemonade over ice.

  15. J.W. Hamner says:

    I have to agree with Alex Knapp regarding mojitos and martinis. Though I would add that a proper martini, in addition to being made with gin, is also stirred not shaken. The terrible ice chunks and diluted drinks that James Bond has foisted upon us is one of the world’s most terrible ongoing tragedies.

  16. sam says:

    When my liver was younger, I used to drink quite a few Long Island Iced Teas of a summer evening.

  17. Peter says:

    I grew tired of gin & tonics years ago and switched to gin & bitter lemon. That’s a mixer you can’t find in some stores, though.

    As for naming anything served in a martini glass a “martini”, I haven’t tried it yet but one of these days I’m going to walk into a bar and order a beer martini — which would be any beer served in a martini glass, right?

  18. bains says:

    Vodka is simply a sissy drink… It’s for people who don’t like to taste anything other than the candy they mix it with.

    Mostly true, but primarily for traditional other cocktails such as Martinis and such. Back before so many cities outlawed smoking in privately owned but open to the public, martini bars were also cigar bars. In fact we used to marvel how silly all the variants were – I’ll have an absolut martini extra dry with a splash of tonic and a lime twist.

    No, that’s a vodka tonic. If it were not cigar part, we would be perfectly content going into any establishment and get a dry Tanqueray Martini rocks, three olives, thank you. (my goodness, even the olives have gone designer.)

  19. Elmo says:

    Not a purist or other …. but in a changing world, the words do as well. So currently some blending/lack of separation/differentiation regards martini, cocktail, and mixed drink.

    This week and last, made the fantastic journey from Screwdriver (with club soda and dash of lemon). Back to Bay Breeze [until I again tire/bore with that (plus, fewer supermarkets now carry the tiny cans of pineapple juice)]. And who knows, mebbe give a Cuba Libre a shot in the lineup?

    Gin? Vodka? All academic after putting the cork from a bottle of Rain Vodka under one’s snout, [of course followed by a little whistle wetting (some Rain, Pellegrino, and rocks …. aaah ‘Sparkling Rain’)].

    It’ll be noon in ….