Summer mixology: five selections to sip until next September

Spring at Williams is awful. An interminable winter is followed by weeks of depressing rain and cruel mud. By your third year, you should already be aware that Mother Nature gets her jollies by letting rays of light and warmth descend upon the Purple Valley in two or three-day stretches. Like sun-starved cave-dwellers, we hit the Quad with beach blankets and frisbees, always underestimating the ability of the heavens to hit us with a hailstorm should we achieve actual contentment. Ask the baseball team, which averages about 50 rainouts a year at sponge-like Coombs Field.

As the misery subsides, however, the opportunity for enjoying oneself out of doors becomes much greater, with the gorgeousness of last Saturday a perfect example. Merrymaking amidst traditional beverages, long cooped up within the confines of brick walls, smoke detectors and carpeting, can proceed apace in the great outdoors. And while winter stalwarts like Natty Ice kegs and rum-and-cokes always have a place in the drinking pantheon, a new type of partying calls for a new type of beverage, sensitive to the needs of the summer souse. Here, then, are five Record recommendations for enjoying oneself in the sun.

Peaches have long been a summer staple, light and delicious. The window for enjoying the best of the bunch is only a month long, but you can treat yourself to a Fuzzy Russian at your leisure. Combine two ounces of (preferably cheap) vodka with the same amount of peach schnapps over ice, and top it off with 7-Up. The carbonation of the soda brings out the sweet taste of the liquor with a bit of liveliness, in contrast to the stifling of the softer fruit that occurs when orange juice is added.

Spring break was not all that long ago, so anyone lucky enough to have traveled to points in or around the Caribbean may be familiar with the mojito. One of the trademark concoctions of the great drinking nation of Cuba, the mojito has its origins in turn-of-the-century Havana, where the alcoholics that invented the daquiri and the Cuba libre were apparently also fixated on creating a beverage with mint. Today, we can be happy that they were, as the result is one of the most refreshing, classy cocktails the world has ever seen.

Fresh mint is the key to a good mojito; about 12 leaves are sufficient for the right taste. With the smallest baseball bat you can find or another grinding implement, you must ‘muddle’ the mint together with the juice of 1/2 of a large lime. This will take several minutes, as the leaves must be fairly destroyed to release much mint. Throw down four tsp. of sugar on top of the muddled mass, add two ounces of light rum and top off with fresh club soda. The final product is a drink that’s worthy of a lawn chair on a hot July afternoon. Seersucker suit is optional.

If and when beer drinkers consider their summer options, the list usually begins and ends with Corona. This pisses me off to no end, as Corona is not, in fact, any good. It’s a bland, tasteless brew that is nearly undrinkable without a lime wedge shoved into the opening. Even then, its appeal lies mostly in the idea of drinking something Mexican or ‘beachlike,’ or just going along with what everyone else is having.

Enough. If you want a good beer from south of the border, drink Dos Equis. But if you insist on a pilsner-type brew, Pacifico is the one to choose. Still widely available on the west coast, this beer – the precursor to Corona, produced by the same company – beats its offspring in every department, from taste to cost to the slightly-increased alcohol content. If you can find it where you find yourself over the break, look into it.

Many Williams students, though, tend to stick around here or nearby during the warmer months. Fear not, as a perfectly good summer beer is produced relatively close by, and can be found all over the place. This is Harpoon Summer, one of the finest offerings from the Boston-based brewer, and uniquely balanced for the type of outdoor revelry that this paper encourages. Brewed in the Kolsch style (from the German city of Cologne, if anyone’s keeping score), it’s light, airy and finishes with a hint of lemon. Like most lagers, it’s not going to stick in your stomach for long; it will keep you happy for as long as you drink it, though.

Given this school’s love/hate relationship with tequila, there tends to be hesitation when it comes to recommending the “most disgusting and violent of liquors.” (Gotta love Newsweek.) Summer is the time for bone-chillingly cold refreshments, however, and nothing really does that like a solid strawberry margarita. The following recipe makes about a blender of the tasty concoction, enough for one Record editor.

You’ll need two handfuls of fresh strawberries, stems removed and washed decently well. Toss these into a blender and add seven ounces of tequila, six ounces of sour mix and two tablespoons of orange marmalade – it adds smoothness. Blend these for about 15 seconds, and then stuff about three handfuls of ice into the mix. It will take nearly a minute for the ice to fully infiltrate – once it does, pour away. If strawberries are your thing, you’ll be as happy as a pig in slop.