Ah, holidays: designated dates spanning the calendar year upon which it is generally agreed that we should gather with friends, family, and celebrate whichever traditions are appropriate for the holiday in question. Whether opening presents, spending a day at the lake, or setting things on fire, drinking has its place in nearly every holiday celebration plan. So whatever it is you’re celebrating, for heaven’s sake don’t forget the hooch.
Summer holidays are especially geared toward drinking oneself silly – slowly or otherwise, and with a combination of high temperatures and outdoor activities such as barbeques and beach parties, your featured drink should be something light and refreshing.
If you’re serving beer stay away from heavy, dark varieties like bocks* and porters, and opt instead for crisp pilsners and lagers. Hefeweisens (like Pyramid) and witbeir (like Blue Moon) have a light flavor but tend to be heavier in body, leaving you with a “full” feeling and making them a less ideal choice for sultry summer days than beers that fall into the pilsner and lager categories. However, these can still make for a decent summer selection, especially when paired with lemon and orange wedges, respectively.
*Shiner Bock doesn’t count. Really.
Our resident brewmaster’s top picks to accompany hot summer days and BBQ: Beck’s, Stella Artoise, Hoegaarden, Grolsch, Shiner, Pilsner Urquell, Corona, and Bitburger; chosen for their light, refreshing quality and wide availability.
If you happen to live in a Trader Joe’s town, look for Simpler Times Lager. At a mere $3 per six pack, a great full body and flavor, and 6.2% ABV, Simpler Times is a solid, all-around beer choice. Careful, though – that 6.2% packs a big punch. If you’re planning on sustained drinking over a long day, Simpler Times probably isn’t the right choice for this soiree.
The Specialty Drink Pick
Early in the summer when market stands are resplendent with big, sweet, luscious berries, my Memorial Day pick is, without a doubt, Hard Berry Lemonade. Blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries all make for excellent pairings with that old-fashioned citrus standby, and nothing hits the spot on a sweaty day quite like the sweet-tart shiver of cold lemonade sliding down one’s gullet. Add vodka for some extra kick, and you have yourself a party. If you don’t want to make your own lemonade from scratch, I suggest starting with Newman’s Own, Florida’s Best, or Tropicana. They’re all well-proportioned and tasty, and inexpensive enough to make a party-sized serving.
Pook’s Hard Berry Lemonade
This recipe makes about 1.5 quarts, so you’ll probably want to double or triple this for a party. If you’re using premade lemonade, just toss it in the blender with the berries, add vodka, and strain out the seeds before serving.
- 1 ¾ c sugar
- 8 cups water (split)
- 1 ½ c lemon juice, with zest of one lemon
- 1 cup hulled berries
- ½ liter (approx. 2 cups) vodka
- Optional Tips – Fresh mint garnish is excellent. Sub 4 cups sparkling water in place of still water for extra awesome.
Boil 2 cups of water and all the sugar in large saucepan for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add remaining water (if using sparkling water, only add the remaining 2 cups of still water at this step), lemon juice, and lemon zest. Let cool.
Add berries and lemon juice mixture to blender and blend well. Strain out seeds and add remaining water, if any. Chill. Serve over ice. (Vodka can be added at any time after lemon mixture is cooled.)
This lemonade should be carefully consumed, as it’s easy to drink and dangerously delicious. Be sure you have a designated driver and your holiday weekend will be super fun and awesome, if you can remember it.
Happy Memorial Day boozing!