Written for Bad Babysitter.
Some hate it, some love it, others tolerate the lazy heat waves that bounce off of every object from April-October. However, summertime is the time for “GO”. Whether it is achieving new feats in your hobbies (since work tends to inevitably slow down) or simply getting out of town and exploring. There is no better time for New Orleanians to sip savory cocktails and relish in the heat.
Personally, I love the heat, but it can slow you down. My adventures naturally steer towards water environments where a quick cooling swim is only a few feet away. Camping can get tricky with the obscene amount of rude mosquitos so traveling to other destinations may be on the agenda. If that’s not in the budget (as summer tends to be a high-travel season) then relaxing “stay-cations” happen more frequently than not. A little hotel pool action followed by a night in a cold movie theater? Yes, yes please.
So, summertime provides a multitude of adventures. Whether outside or in, a cocktail can make the most unbearable dog days a bit more manageable. With all the choices what should you drink?
A few key notes to consider. Even more so than any other season summer time is tricky. Here is what to watch out for:
Too much sugar: It attracts every insect known to man and will leave the worst of headaches.
Not hydrating enough: Yes, this is something you should always be mindful of, but when the weather is oppressive and you’re still knocking back ice cold ones to stay cool consider how your body will feel like beef jerky in 8 hours.
Three ingredients max: For the adventures make sure your drink is portable. Recipes with 4 pieces of fruit, a liquor, a vermouth, and ice are all fun to make for your backyard extravaganza, but they are completely impractical and stressful if you are on the go.
My top cocktails for summertime adventures:
Old New Orleans Rum let me test drive the newest batch of Gingeroo and the special ____ oz bottles. Although heavier than a more practical container for hiking this is perfect for floating down rivers, car camping, tailgating, or brunches. Gingeroo is also my go-to hangover cure. The ginger extract pops right out of the bottles and kick starts your metabolism again. It’s made with ONOR’s crystal rum and has an ABV of 10%. It’s so easy to stockpile multiple bottles of this and have a refreshing cocktail with zero effort. It’s basically everything I’m about.
Recipe for Extra Dark and Stormy
1 ¼ oz of dark rum
4 oz of Gingeroo
½ oz of lime juice
Combine all ingredients into a cup of your choice and enjoy.
OR, put Gingeroo on ice. Seriously, it’s that delicious.
Gin and Tonic
Although we now rarely worry about malaria (thank you Zika and dengue fever) but the de facto medicinal distribution methods from the likes of Burmese Days hold a commemorative place in the summer cocktail list.
It’s a classic for all the right reasons. Light enough to sip casually while perspiring long after the sun has set, but sturdy enough to get the job done. True tonic has more sugar than I sometimes need in the heat so I can substitute for soda water or diet tonic. It’s not the same however. So belly up to the seasoned drinker side of the bar and order your first with true tonic and lime.
Recipe for The Perfect Gin and Tonic
1 ¼ oz of Beefeater Gin
Lemon and lime wedge
Cubed ice and Collins glass
Pour gin into glass and top with tonic. Enjoy!
My dear sweet friend, tequila: silver, gold, anejo, reposado, even Mezcal. The options are limitless. It’s a more discernable base than most people are used to, but honestly you can mix this just about any way you want it. When it gets a little cooler I make a tequila Manhattan with anejo. While camping or hiking I bring a flask of Mezcal straight up because it needs no other flavors. Tequila is a perfect vessel for my third rule: when in doubt add lime, a sugar base, and sip contently.
Recipe for a Paloma
2 oz of Tres Agaves silver tequila
½ oz of grapefruit juice
slice of lime
Combine all ingredients into a highball and enjoy.
Because no one needs to be asleep all afternoon. Try as I might to seem capable of consuming any liquor a quote from my aunt is always present, “It’s cool to drink. It’s not cool to get drunk.” Right or wrong, I love her sentiments. Drinking high-proof cocktails while battling heat and fatigue is a sure fire way of losing your cool or debilitating your body for a couple of days. Stick with a few of these and you can keep up with the best of us at all day cook-outs and also get up in the morning. My favorites are the Americano: Campari, sweet vermouth, soda water; “mimosa” (you know why I’m putting it in quotes you bottomless brunch-lover); and a Rose Spritzer (now commandeered by the Frose, but that has too much sugar for me to drink all day).
You may not be out exploring the side trails of national parks (or maybe you are!) but remember to keep summertime cocktails easy enough to take with you anywhere. It’s summertime so keep it simple.
Recipe for an Americano, of course!
1 ¼ oz of Campari
4 oz of sweet vermouth
Garnish with grapefruit peel
Combine Campari and sweet vermouth into a Collins glass and enjoy.
Originally written for Where Y'at.
Dear Jazz Fest, how we love your weekends and your revelry, but oh how we hate the traffic that it causes. Both Jazz Fest weekends and Mardi Gras are arguably the worst times to drive and/or park your car here in New Orleans. With Uber, taxis, and pedicabs there are so many options NOT to drive that I really do question why anyone does it.
For those who wish to bike ride around during festival season--and to Jazz Fest in particular--here is a little bit of advice on how to do it safely and without being a nuisance yourself.
Know your route. It’s fun to ride down unknown streets and see another part of New Orleans, but relatively few people know the names of the streets surrounding the Fairgrounds, thus their way back home. When you want to leave in a hurry as you are sunburn, tired, and a little tipsy it’s best to know the your way home. The homes around the Fairgrounds are just those, homes, so be courteous if you are trying to use a gate to lock your bike. There are few poles or streets signs over in this area which is the great thing about the next point.
Bike parking lot. It’s huge but it is packed. Don’t take up too much space by locking your bike to another or at an angle so no one else can get around you. When you approach the Fairgrounds entrance the parking lot will be to your left. It is a free-for-all so play nice!
Safety, in general. Bring your lights and do not try to ride if you are one beer shy of taking a nap on the ground during your last concert. You’re really just going to create a lot more trouble for your friends.
Travel with people, especially after the festival. When you’re in a pack do know where you are going so you do NOT crowd the already busy streets and add confusion. The bike rides are longer and more treacherous than most are used to so traveling with friends is always a good choice. From the French Quarter alone it’s about a three mile journey across many intersections and the notorious Broad Street.
Bring presents. You’re on a bike which means you can haul a gallon of daiquiri or a few beers to enjoy before you cross the threshold into the Disneyland-priced arena. People will really think you planned ahead even if you buy it at a convenience store on the way.
What NOT to do: i.e. ride on sidewalks (which will be packed with people), bike anywhere to the right of the Fairgrounds gate (not because it’s scary over there, but trust me, it’s not the direction you are intending to go, i.e. French Quarter, Mid-City,...home), cut off cars (they are already in traffic and don’t need more reasons to hate bikes).
Enjoy the after parties. There are lots of bands that play on infamous Mystery Street and Fortin Street to the southwest of the Fairgrounds. Expect Brazilian drum band Bate Bunda to lead the way dressed all in blue and yellow. This is a great way to ease out of the festivities because as we know the party continues even after you leave the Fairgrounds.
It’s 100-degrees outside and already a nap sounds tempting. It would be wrong to waste such a beautiful day, but biking or paddling or even walking outside sounds grueling and unappealing. So, like everyone who needs encouragement to get up and get moving you promise yourself a summer treat. Not a child’s sno-ball or sweet tea, but an ice cold beer.
Drinking beer in the summer has taken on a form of finesse. With the rise of so many beers and breweries you label yourself automatically whenever you hold a can or bottle. For the adventurous kind we tend to lean towards cans because they are more environmentally-friendly and won’t break in our backpack or dry bag. For those who are more leisurely with their activities the options become almost limitless.
So, what are the beers for this summer? Keep it low in alcohol since the heat already is a burden. Make it crisp and refreshing, and yes, extremely cold. Do not waste your time sipping the beers you hate no matter how cool the can looks.
Let’s not forget about the holy invention of the mini-can. Of course, these beers are mainly from macro-breweries so tiny soldiers from Corona, Michelob Ultra, and Coors Light will grace your cooler this season. Do not let anyone give you heat for this. They are informing you that they are inexperienced drinkers. Chances are they have not lasted hours on hot sandy beaches, mosquito-infested kayak trips, or simply live in the South.
I compiled a list of my favorites summer sippers, but then asked Lauren McCurdy, Marketing Manager for Good People Brewery in Birmingham, AL, to let us in on her seasonal specials. Below is a great starter package for summertime. (My sole recommendations are listed with a ** while her input is in quotations.)
Good People Bearded Lady (American wheat) and Good People Pale Ale— “Even if I didn’t work at the brewery, I seriously would make these two brews my top two choices for summer drinking. Since Good People people are huge fans of hops, this American Wheat ale is light, bright, with a slight bite of citrusy hops at the end. Good People Pale is my ride or die. It’s what I choose to drink no matter what mood I’m in or what the weather is like.”
Activity pairing: Festivals, BBQ contests, rock climbing
Anchor Lager— “This is what made me love lagers. The can is super sharp looking (the California flag), but the beer is so easy to drink that you don’t even realize that you’ve had the whole six pack.”
Activity pairing: Camping, BBQ, mountain biking
Westbrook Gose— “This was my go-to when I first started working at [Good People Brewery]. No A/C in Alabama during the summer and a million people to pour beer for? You’re going to need something to satisfy your thirst, but maybe also get you buzzed after that crazy shift you just had!” (Writer’s note: this is also my go-to beer when I want something to sip on, but don’t want to feel like I’m gearing up for a Saturday crawfish boil.)
Activity pairing: festivals, Sunday Funday
Shiner Ruby Redbird— “Really refreshing and easy to drink with a nice kiss of ginger.”
Activity pairing: crawfish boils, kayaking, running
Sierra Nevada Otra Vez— “I may just really love goses, but Sierra Nevada really hit it out of the park with this one. There’s nothing overly salty/tart/cactusy/etc about this beer, but it’s really well balanced.” (Keep goses away from saltwater activities as they are already quite salty tasting.)
Activity pairing: mountain biking, rock climbing, trail running
Carton Boat Beer— “Shoutout to NJ! Grab some tall boys, get on the boat, and you’ve got a pretty perfect day in my mind.”
Activity pairing: fishing, skiing, kiteboarding, sailing
Bells Oberon— “My mom is not a huge beer drinker, but she LOVES Bells Oberon. It’s a beer that we can both enjoy.” (This is a beer anyone can find refreshing. Michigan takes on Canadian beer.)
Activity pairing: camping, hiking, boating, canoeing
Oskar Blues Pinner— “I actually got to try this for the first time at the Oskar facility in Brevard, NC. I had a great experience there and this beer was definitely one of the highlights.”
Activity pairing: kayaking, SUP, biking, camping, hiking, just about anything
**Big Wave Golden Ale—A great way to get the saltwater out of your mouth after water sports.
Activity pairing: SUP, surf, beach day, hiking
**Endless River: It is bright, crisp, and everything you need in a summer beer. Drink it ice, ice cold for ultimate refreshment.
Activity pairing: any damn day
Now pack up the dry bag, backpack, overly-expensive Yeti, and head out! Have you completed the “New Orleans 52” bike ride yet?
Let me start by saying I completely, wholeheartedly, and knowingly relinquish myself to the self-hatred of saying, “This is my ‘brand’. This is who I am.”
There is fear in professing and projecting our own values and opinions outwardly, but without such expression there would be no progress. Yes, it feels great to look back on the work that I have completed and the laurels it has afforded, however, that is not what keeps me motivated and it shouldn’t motivate you either. As George Orwell put it, “ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”
The process is putting in the time and effort. To find an audience that shares similar tendencies and connect with them while opening up conversations with those who oppose my words. Through this relationships I hope I can find people who can contribute just as much to my writing as I can to their reading.
If I graduated college looking for credit despite creating amatuer, mediocre but fully passionate work, I can’t remember. Today I realize that searching for credit is searching for your ego. It’s an endless cycle with a balancing act on razor blades. The falls will feel larger and the highs will never be enough.
My goal at the end of this journey is to earn the title "explorer". It is my ego that craves this title. I hope I move past it.
I have done many things I am proud of, but I have a list that grows everyday of things that I want to discover. It will be my journey, researched, carried out, and expanded upon in writing and through different outlets.
It's a way for me to give sanity to the mind. The key is in the transference of information and knowledge. To be labeled an "explorer" means sharing what I discover.
I would have to say that explorers are amateurs. They dare to go where they (nor anyone else) has been and do not feel adequate. They know that unchartered places are still out there, and that to fill them in means to take risks.
However, their goal is to see the disconnected dots of information and compile them into knowledge. That knowledge then has the potential to become education for others.
The title "Everyday Explorer" is to suit just that sentiment. I travel and experiment and try to discover something new everyday. So, in fact, I could just as easily associate with the name “Everyday Amateur”.
I found this written in my notes and cannot remember writing it. I do not think it is a quote from someone else, but if it is familiar to anyone please let me know.
“It is but the turmoil to create and realize how hard it actually is to drive oneself into the darkest corners of our minds that humbles humanity.
To see the infected seas of minds, all dwindling in search of one true impression, is my biggest interest. Everyone looking about, thinking they are not crazy while making sure they hide all their bits not fit for public in the dark recesses of their minds.”