The 10 Commandments for Drinking Exceptionally Well This Summer
Sure, you could raise a glass in a controlled climate, but we think a tall, frosty libation goes down even better when consumed en plein air. If you agree, head to Kendall Square’s West Bridge, where bar manager Chris Danforth recently inaugurated the restaurant’s custom patio bar, complete with its own unique, heat-friendly cocktail list. To design the new menu, Danforth asked himself what he’d want to sip while sweating it out. The answer: “Bright, refreshing, interesting cocktails that not only quench thirst, but continue to inspire it.” This translates to offerings like the “Little Golden Age,” a mix of Brazilian- sugarcane-based cachaça, citrus, and spicy pink peppercorns, and the “Liber-Tea Engine,” which pairs white rum, lemon, and mint with the herbaceous liqueurs Cynar and yellow Chartreuse. Want to step up your own outdoor boozing station? Below are Danforth’s pro tips (and much more).
Up your al fresco game with these sage tips from West Bridge bar manager Chris Danforth.
Batch It. To avoid shaking and stirring all night long, prep bulk pitchers, punches, and even spirit-only cocktails (like Negronis) in advance.
Go Green. Before your bash, place vibrant herbs, fresh citrus juice, and simple syrups in repurposed jars (and be sure to prep those way in advance).
Stay Cool. Ice keeps drinks cold and properly diluted, so buy at least 25 pounds for a sizable fete. Feeling old school? Custom order a giant block from Brookline Ice & Coal and carve your own artisanal cubes.
Buy Straws. For taste-testing drinks on the fly, straws are your best ally. (Hint: Dip into the drink, put your finger on the top of the straw, and release into your mouth.)
Be Selective. Instead of carting the entire contents of your liquor cabinet outside, Danforth recommends choosing a quality London dry-style gin, vodka, and white rum.
Infuse Your Booze. Flavor your own vodka by pouring it into a bowl (or large sealable jar) along with sliced cucumbers, pineapple, or other sliced fruits, and let it hang out for at least a day.
Use Towels. “If you are jiggering drinks or pouring, inevitably you will spill.”
Charlestown-based Downeast Cider is trying to change hard lemonade’s bad rap, one can at a time. The company’s new “Lemonade” upgrades the classic swill with fermented cider as a base in lieu of the standard malt liquor. In short: It’s a quality, locally brewed beverage you can stock in your cooler, shame-free.
The only thing better than a sweating can of Mexican lager? One doctored up with salt, citrus, and heat. Green Street barman Andy McNees—who started serving up Tecate “dressed”-style while managing the bar at Toro—tells us how to do the classic combo right. 1. Crack open the beer. 2. Squirt hot sauce—such as Cholula—all over the mouth of the can. 3. Squeeze a lime wedge over the top. 4. Sprinkle with crushed sea salt (like Maldon). 5. Swirl, and drink. 6. Repeat until you’ve killed your six-pack.
“Session” beers ring in at 5 percent ABV or less—so you should be able to crush several without feeling worse for the wear. One to try now: Whirlpool, by Everett-based Night Shift Brewing, a drinkable 4.5 percent ABV pale ale brewed with pilsner malt, wheat, oats, and mosaic hops—the latter of which lend the brew bright notes of melon and peach.
This spring, Jody Adams’s downtown restaurant Trade debuted a choose-your-own-adventure-style cocktail program: Patrons check off flavor preferences on a preprinted card and receive a surprise concoction in return. Checking “tropical” and “ floral,” for example, might get you bar manager Tenzin Conechok Samdo’s “ Hawaiian Shirt” (pictured at left)—a tiki-style blend of white rum, pineapple and pomegranate juices, hibiscus liqueur, and citrus-and-chamomile bitters that’s topped with a drinkable lime-peel garnish filled with pomegranate juice, absinthe, and Amarena cherries. A customized drink this elaborate, of course, deserves a bespoke vessel to match—enter local potter Jeremy Ogusky, whom Samdo enlisted to craft a ceramic tiki mug for the libation. —Panicha Imsomboon