Know what you should never drink at a beach?
Martini. For any host of reasons: warm martinis are s**t, it’s impossible to balance that glass in sand, you’ll be drunk by noon, etc.
Know what is good on the beach? A light, canned beer. For all the reasons a martini isn’t.
Hence: seven of our favorite summer drinks, and the outdoor activities and outings to pair with each.
Drink: Scratch Margarita
Why it’s great: True, any mention of tequila can conjure flashbacks of college nights gone wrong, but you’re older now. And hopefully drinking better tequila, a clear, refreshing spirit that should be at the top of your list when it’s warm out. Order your poison by name (i.e., don’t drink the rail) and make sure it’s made with 100% blue agave. Pure agave tequilas have zero added sugar and, consumed in moderation, are your best bet against a hangover. Go for a scratch margarita, which is just tequila, fresh lime juice and triple sec on the rocks.
Pairs with: Concerts, fireworks
Drink: Boxed Wine
Why it’s great: Long gone are the days when four-cornered-wine was relegated to games of “slap the bag.” In recent years, producers have warmed up and begun boxing some high-quality juice. Besides the fact that it’s environmentally friendly and inexpensive, boxed wine is an extremely effective delivery mechanism. Throw a box in a cooler without worrying about a wine opener and empty glass bottles. Pro tip: the best boxed wines are still coming out of the old world (France, Italy etc.), but more are entering the market every day. Ask your wine shop for their recommendations.
Pairs with: Picnics, beach, BBQs
Drink: Summer Shandy
Why it’s great: Look: craft beer is phenomenal, but on a hot day at a baseball game or the beach, a double IPA just won’t do. Consider the shandy. The delicious blend of lemon soda and beer is slightly lower in alcohol, refreshing as hell and complements every type of summer event. You can mix a lager like Narragansett with fresh lemonade for a homemade version, or try The Curious Traveler for a more refined pre-fixed radler. When all else fails, Leinenkugel’s always does the trick.
Pairs with: Tailgates, BBQs, golf
Drink: Jello Shots
Why they’re great: Jello shots have gotten hot in recent years, which is admittedly a bizarre sentence. No longer defined by red jello and cheap vodka, candied booze shooters have gotten a serious facelift and are even menu staples at restaurants like The Meatball Shop in New York. Class it up with a greyhound shot (grapefruit jello and vodka) or a French 75 (champagne, cognac & lemon vodka). They’re light, easy to transport and perfect for most summer events, especially boats, which should be self-explanatory.
Pairs with: Boats, fireworks, beach
Drink: Whiskey Smash
Why it’s great: For all its glory, an old fashioned just doesn’t quite scream “height of summer,” but that doesn’t mean whiskey should remain in autumnal purgatory. Enter: the whiskey smash. Just muddle about eight mint leaves with one half of a lemon (quartered) and a pinch of sugar. Add crushed ice and 2 oz. of bourbon, and you’ve got yourself a tart, refreshing summer staple that's easy enough to make between turns on the grill.
Pairs with: BBQs, weddings
Why it’s great: At 7 P.M. in Italy, everything stops and aperitivo, a pre-dinner drink and light snack, is served. The famous Aperol Spritz is at the heart of this tradition, but no one is going to slight you for drinking this bitter, bubbly delight at all hours of the day. Made with 2 oz. prosecco, 1½ oz aperol, a splash of soda and an orange wedge, the spritz is much lighter than a glass of wine and refreshing enough to sip by the pool all day long.
Pairs with: Weddings, picnics, poolside
Drink: Gin and Tonic
Why it’s great: Ah, the gin and tonic. Classic as any cocktail and breezy as any summer staple could ever hope to be. The smell of juniper, quinine and fresh lime can almost conjure summer on the spot, and no list would be complete without this easy, refreshing beaut of a beverage. The perfection of this cocktail lies in its simplicity; it’s almost impossible to screw up. Even the most barebones of bars or inept of bartenders couldn’t mess with the glorious balance of bitter, sugar, liquor and acid. Mix a big batch in a thermos before a picnic and win summer.
Pairs with: Anything