The Drinks of Summer

Summer! Days are longer, temperatures are higher… what do you drink? I have lots of opinions on that, and I also asked our Sojourn Philly Team. We have a lot of thoughts on drinks. Here are our picks for “the” drinks of summer!

After a long, hot, dusty day digging in the Syrian sun, almost nothing tasted better to me (Sojourn Philly founder and archaeologist, Jill Weber) than a cool, grape-distilled anise-y arak. Add some freshly roasted, salted peanuts and Happy Hour is nearly perfect. Arak just feels so…restorative. It is lighter than beer, smoother than gin, less sugary than an aperol spritz, and eminently quaffable. Some arak drinks nuttier and milder, some reads more like Good & Plenty – but it always tastes delicious. And, it is really cool to watch the clear liquid turn milky with the addition of water and ice. How much? Traditionally 1:2 arak to water and a few cubes. If you ask me, make it closer to 1:1 and two cubes. While Philly summers are far less dusty and far more humid than those in Syria, I drink arak in Philly, too; the experience and pleasure of it remains the same. Arak drinks incredibly well with food, acting as both digestive and palate cleanser.  Arak is served at Jet Wine Bar.

Enjoying Arak at home.

What else? Well I asked the many drink experts in our restaurant group, Sojourn Philly. Here are their choices:

Staying with our Middle East theme (Arak is the national drink of Lebanon, after all) people are finally discovering similarly-flavored drinks to pair with their mezze. Mezze – especially cold dips like muhammara, labne, hummus – are perfect to share and eat in the heat. If you aren’t drinking arak with your mezze, then why not have cocktails featuring za’atar or sumac. While a traditional margarita is a great drink for summer, Sojourn Philly CFO and former beverage director, Nick Baitzel, devised the za’atar-garita – a traditional margarita enlivened with za’atar – for Jet’s Wine Garden. According to Nick, warmer weather and outdoor drinking call for lighter, more herbal and more acidic flavors. Za’atar is a traditional, savory spice-blend made from toasted sesame, sumac, oregano, thyme and other herbs that originated in the Levant. We infuse these flavors into a syrup that creates a beautifully balanced margarita.

Speaking of warm weather flavors… Sor Ynez Bar Lead, Alejandro Vaca, suggests that the tangy, spicy Michelada could and should be the drink of summer; it is definitely his drink of choice for summer! According to Alejandro, this low-alcohol Mexican drink “is not only a thirst quencher on a hot day, but also the best hangover cure.” The Michelada’s combination of lime, beer, spices, and tomato juice (optional!) are definitely classic choices for hot-weather, and perfect for sipping on Sor’s patio.

Looking for a different classic cocktail? Rex at the Royal’s Bar Manager, Joshua Schied, recommends The Martinez.  Josh calls this “the martini’s older, off-dry cousin”, that is “the perfect transition between oppressive heat and aggressive AC.” What is so great about it? Gin and vermouth are the “infinitely customizable” main ingredients. Also Josh tells us that, “like any good older cousin, the Martinez can always be counted on to make day drinking cool and fun.” We’ll drink to that! Order one at the bar.

Looking for something lighter, still? Wine!

“Piquettes are definitely going to be big this summer,” opines Jet Wine Bar General Manager, Emily Gordon. They’re natural, sustainable, and lower ABV, all of which are trending now. Piquettes are made by adding water to grape pomace — the stems, seeds and skins left over from a different wine’s production — and letting it ferment naturally. The light, slightly sweet, and tart flavor screams summer, and the 7% (or lower) ABV makes it easy to crush a bottle (or two) with your friends at a backyard party.” Emily currently stocks Gabernik 23, Rumeni Muscat Piquette, Slovenia at Jet Wine Bar, available by the glass or bottle.

We asked Max Glenn, Assistant GM at Rex at the Royal, what *he* thought would be the drink of summer. According to Max, “Aged Rosés and Rosatos” are perfect as they are “hardy enough for the grilled meats, light enough to sip by the pool!” The Bottle Shop at Rex carries two that are perfect for that grilling and sipping. Try the Italian rosato ‘A Vito Ciro, or Of Service Limited Addition Pinot Gris, Bonus for the latter, as th producer is donating proceeds from sales of this wine to directly helping women in agriculture in Oregon and Washington. See you by the pool, Max!