Toasting to Summer

BY JO PIAZZA • ILLUSTRATIONS BY PEGGY PANOSH • JUNE 6, 2018

Toasting to Summer

BY JO PIAZZA • ILLUSTRATIONS BY PEGGY PANOSH • JUNE 6, 2018


Grab the season by the stem with these warm-weather approved cocktails.

Perhaps it’s a Proustian tic of mine, but I prefer the fleeting recall of a delightful cocktail on the beach over any tchotchke. A warm breeze, sun on your face, and something refreshing in your glass—that’s my recipe for the perfect day. Here are the essential summer drinks befitting their home locales, be it a Mexican beach or the stands of Wimbledon.

A Negroni in Tuscany

I once came down with an unfortunate cold during a much-anticipated trip to the Italian countryside. My host, a sophisticated Florentine woman of indeterminate age, insisted on fixing me up some medicine. Instead of the expected concoction of herbs, lemon and honey, she brought me a negroni, neat—and it was the best medicine I’ve ever been given. The legend of the negroni dates back to the early 20th century, when an Italian count allegedly asked a bartender at Florence’s Caffè Casoni to make his favorite drink, an Americano, just a little bit stronger by adding some gin. Some Italian bartenders will add shaved ice to the bold mixture of Campari, dry gin and red vermouth; others pour it over a formidable frozen sphere. Either way, it’s the perfect aperitivo on a sun-drenched Italian veranda.

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A Paloma in Los Cabos

I have nothing against a delicious salt-rimmed margarita, but it’s the last thing I want to order on a sultry summer day. I follow the maxim that when in Mexico, drink like the Mexicans—and order a Paloma instead. It’s twice as refreshing, and the next day you’ll have about half the hangover. Authentic Baja cantinas make their Palomas by mixing grapefruit-flavored soda, often Jarritos brand, with tequila and lime juice. Fancier establishments may scoff at this and insist upon a fresh-squeezed grapefruit with club soda. Take a tip from the locals: Ask for the Jarritos.

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A 50 Shades of Oolong in Beijing

For too long, Beijing was a wasteland for quality craft cocktails. That’s all changed in the past decade, as experienced mixologists have flooded the city with creative tipples with a distinctly Chinese flair. No trip to Beijing would be complete without a visit to Janes + Hooch, which brings a vintage speakeasy vibe to this buttoned-up city. Escape the scorching heat and order the 50 Shades of Oolong, a warm-weather favorite with smoky tea-infused gin mixed with tart lemon and frothy egg white. 

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A Pimm’s Cup in London

There’s plenty to celebrate in merrie olde England these days—a new American princess, an adorable baby, Wimbledon! At the latter, the traditional drink of choice is the Pimm’s Cup. The classic rendition, originally concocted in the 18th century, is made with the English gin-based spirit Pimm’s No. 1, plus ginger beer, fresh mint and perhaps a slice of strawberry or cucumber. Some add an extra shot of gin, but the glory of the Pimm’s Cup is that it’s so low in alcohol you can sip it all day in the sun and still manage to pretend you know something about tennis.

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A Dark ’n’ Stormy in Bermuda

While the official drink of the 21-square-mile nation is the Rum Swizzle, locals are more apt to order what The New York Times refers to as a “cult highball”—the brooding Dark ’n’ Stormy. The drink is made from a simple recipe of very dark rum mixed with ginger beer and lime juice. Gosling’s Rum actually trademarked the drink in 1991, claiming any D&S made without their Bermuda-born booze is an impostor. Luckily, Gosling’s is plentiful on the island, as are bartenders willing to make yours extra dark or extra stormy, depending on the weather.

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