No One Wants A Fussy Drink On Fourth of July
But you can still class it up a little with this Sorta Fussy Pimm's Cup.
This week, I was happy to see the New York Times recommend the tinto de verano—that classic Spanish mix of red wine and lemon-lime soda—in advance of the holiday weekend. This means we’re way ahead of The Gray Lady over here, since last Fourth of July we spoke in praise of Spain’s wine-plus-soda cocktails. If you haven’t yet tried a calimocho (red wine and Coke), a rebujito (fino sherry and 7-Up), or a tinto de verano, our American holiday is the perfect time to try them.
I am a big fan of ease and non-fussy drinks, whether it’s summertime or not. I’ve written numerous times in praise of lazy bartending, and there is a whole universe of soda-plus-booze cocktails to explore if you want to be creative.
So what am I drinking over this summer holiday? When I’m at the beach, I am a simple man who likes simple pleasures, and so I am very happy cracking open a Miller High Life (which is also my drink of choice for Tuesday night karaoke at the local dive bar). I have also come to love the Finnish Long Drink canned cocktail. I also love a Salty Dog.
And then there is the Pimm’s Cup
While hot-weather drinks can never be considered “sophisticated,” they can, on occasion, approach “classy.”
It all boils down to choices. A rum and Coke can be bottom-shelf rum and Diet Coke poured into a Solo cup. Or it can aspire to be a true Cuba Libre, with a squeeze of lime, a dash of bitters, maybe a splash of gin, and perhaps even Mexican-recipe Coca-Cola. A gin and tonic can be Crystal Palace from a plastic jug and Canada Dry, or a Spanish-style G&T with high-end tonic, fruit other than a lime, herbs and/or spices, and a thoughtful garnish. A mint julep can be a gross, pre-mixed disaster, redolent of mouthwash. Or it can be crafted to order, with gently bruised mint leaves and a fine bourbon.
Perhaps no drink illustrates this dichotomy better than the Pimm’s Cup. On one hand, it’s the snooty summer tipple of Wimbledon, garnished with borage leaves, cucumber, strawberries, and/or mint. On the other hand, it’s one of the staples of New Orleans’ French Quarter, made with lemonade and 7-Up. Years ago, at Tales of the Cocktail in the Big Easy, some friends and I once tried to collectively drink 100 of the latter. As I said: classy.