summer tippling

Thirsty men don’t much like being caught outside; the one exception being the beer garden. There is positively nothing worse on earth than some onerous chore or worldly disaster pulling us out of the comforting shadows of the bar to stand blinking in the sun and have to pull ourselves together, the messiness of daily existence all around.

Fortunately it’s that time of the year that summer is all around (as the song goes) and so all the amateurs, all the poseurs and dilettantes are on the beach or engaged in some highly energetic and ultimately unfulfilling physical action. This means the bars are pleasantly uncrowded for most of the day – that is until the sun begins to dwindle and the happy set move in to partake of the “sun-downers” ritual.

While I prefer the sun-riser and noon-in-Rangoon as my moments to celebrate with a particular beverage, I can’t argue with a sun-downer either, so long as it’s not your only salute to the heavenly motions. Sorry to be rude, but here I am referring to that type of person who seems only to be able to sip an alco-pop when the weather is good and the beach sand is clinging to their toes, but generally would rather skip this part and go straight to the movies or some rave party where they can chase cartoon pills with over-priced water.

The best sundowner starts around four pm, giving you time to settle in and know exactly what kind of drink you should have in your hand by the time the sun does finally bow out. You should by no means rush to the nearest bar and take a sip just as the orange flatlines and sucks away. That is a life badly planned, and, as someone once said, a badly planned life is not really worth living.

What to drink? There is always the classic G ‘n T if you lack the desire to think too hard (never a bad thing at this time of day), but sundowner time is also the perfect time to experiment with all those drinks that you have only read about on cocktail lists but never tried. Even the ones with the silly names, because this is the one time that a drink with an umbrella is allowable, so long as you laugh riotously as you drink it and preferably wear a Hawaiian shirt. You need long, cool drinks; drinks with colours and drinks with fruit. You need to be saying, through your techno-coloured drink: “Look at you old sun, you may be stealing another day from me, but I am just dandy – in fact I am the king! I’m having a party while you are flaking out! I mock your lack of staying power! Ha-ha-ha-ha!”

At the same time, you should take care that the sundowner is not too powerful, because it should be setting you up for the rest of the evening’s festivities – the sun is going down, not you. Here are a few that will do the job very nicely, lifting the spirits, soothing the brow and giving you that comfortable the little dose of immortality.

El Presidente – think about America and dream…
1 1/2 measures white rum, 3/4 measure dry vermouth, and a splash of red Curaçao
Shake on ice and pour.

The True Daquiri – keep it simple
Two measures of rum, a teaspoon of white syrup, and one measure of lime juice. Too much rum, and the taste becomes overpowering; too much lime, and it’s bitter and sharp; too much sugar, and you might as well toss it out. Shake on ice and pour.