Drinks: Ah, So Refreshing
If we were to anthropomorphize the weather in naples (just go with us here), then December through March would look like a guy relaxing in a hammock at sunset. And August would look like someone locked inside a sauna banging on the door to get out.
So what are we to do to combat the sweaty feeling of summer’s cruelest months? Drink, of course. Whether it is an ice-cold brew, a crisp glass of wine, a well-appointed cocktail or a non-alcoholic chiller, the right beverage can make Southwest Florida’s summer heat a bit more tolerable.
So we scoured local wine shops, bars and the interwebs to come up with a sampling of cool drinks to help you beat those scorching days and nights, whether at the beach, out on the town or in your back yard.
Bring us another.
The drinks usually associated with warm weather—piña coladas, rum punches and the like—tend to be a little too heavy and sweet for our tastes when the mercury hits the mid-90s and humidity envelops us like a blanket.
So think simple. Fewer ingredients, more carbonation and a mild to moderate kick (because nothing warms you up more than high alcohol content).
Our first choice hails from Barcelona, a beach town that, like Naples, knows a thing or two about good food and drink, but has had extra millennia to get things just right. Try out this recipe from the city’s famed Café de l’Opera for cava sangria, perhaps pair it with some cool bossa nova for a multi-continental chill out at your next barbecue.
1 orange, a blood orange if you can find it
2 tablespoons of Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
1 teaspoon of rose water (if you can’t find locally, you can order it from plenty of specialty shops online)
1 750ml bottle of brut cava (or other dry sparkling wine)
In a large pitcher, muddle the first three ingredients together with a wooden spoon. Add cava. Serve in wine glasses filled with ice.
A few other cocktails we recommend:
Ones like Hemingway used to drink, not those frozen strawberry slushies. Two parts rum, one part lime juice, one-half part simple syrup. Shake with ice, pour into cocktail glass. Drink and repeat. Head over to the beach bar at the Naples Beach Hotel, as it has one of the few bars that gets this right without too much instruction.
Campari and Soda
There are few easier or more refreshing cocktails than a 50-50 split of the slightly bitter aperitif and soda water. This drink makes a perfect companion for people-watching and some fried calamari at Campiello.
Beer is an underutilized cocktail component. Mix equal part crisp light beer (we like Stella or Wittekerke) with some carbonated lemonade or ginger ale for an eminently quaffable beverage. And if you want to be extra fancy, you can call it by its French name—panache. Head to World of Beer in Fort Myers and see how many delicious combinations you can come up with.
Local wine maven Sukie Honeycutt gave us her must-drink lists for the summer.
“My wine preferences change dramatically between the winter and summer seasons,” she says “In the summer, I eat lighter meals— salads, creative sandwiches, various chicken-based dishes, fish. I also have more free time in the summer and enjoy pre-dinner wines. The profile for my summer wine selections: crisp, clean, refreshing, good acidity, so mostly whites and sparklers. When I am enjoying a dish that ‘requires’ a red wine, I drink pinot noirs and grenache.”
Sukie’s Four Great Summer “Cocktail” Wines
- Paul Cheneau Giro Ribot Cava Brut NV, Penedes, Spain
- Schramsberg Brut Rose 2008, Napa, California
- Ponzi Pinot Blanc 2010, Willamette Valley, Oregon
- Elena Walch Castel Ringberg Pinot Grigio 2010, Alto Adige, Italy
Sukie’s Four Favorite Dinner Wines
- Kim Crawford Spitfire Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Marlborough, New Zealand
- Celler Capcanes Mas Donis Rose 2011, Monsant, Spain
- Yangarra Old Vine Grenache, McLaren Vale, Australia
- Pali Riviera Pinot Noir 2008, Sonoma Coast, California
Sometimes you need a refreshing pick-me-up at a time when consuming alcohol would be considered uncouth. The experts at Cooking Light had a few ideas of drinks we thought would be perfect for the Florida summers.
6 cups of water, divided
3 cups fresh blackberries
1 cup of sugar
2/3 cup of fresh lime juice
Lime slices for garnish
Puree the blackberries with 1 cup of water in a blender. Strain puree through a sieve to remove seeds. Mix in a pitcher with remaining water, sugar and juice. Stir until sugar dissolves. Pour over ice and garnish.
Strawberry Agua Fresca
4 cups of water
1/3 cup sugar
6 cups of strawberries, hulled
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
Puree strawberries in blender until smooth. Stir sugar into water until dissolved. Mix strawberry puree with sugar water and juice. Stir well and serve chilled.
We asked Ashley Stites, beer guru at Avenue Wine Café, to give us her favorite summer beers.
Sierra Nevada Kellerweis
On a hot summer day, the subtle banana and clove that dance in a glass of this crisp, Bavarian-style hefeweizen can be amazingly refreshing.
This pilsner from the birthplace of the style has layers of bready malt with a dry, hoppy finish that urge you to finish a few.
Lagunitas Lil’ Sumpin’ Sumpin’
One of my all-time favorite beers, this West coast pale ale adds wheat that balances out the floral hops with a juicy apricot-peach finish.
The quintessential Belgian summer beer, Saison Dupont explodes with carbonation and refreshing flavors of bright citric fruit, herbs, lemon zest and malt sweetness.