It's Only a Rumor

Who started the rumor that it’s hot and humid in New Orleans during the summertime? And who keeps repeating it?

Why doesn’t the Chamber of Commerce and/or the Visitors’ Bureau step in and stop this madness? Don’t they realize that visitors won’t come here if our guests think it’s going to be uncomfortable? Don’t they know that locals will leave town in droves to escape the alleged high temperatures coupled with high humidity levels?

Okay, okay, let’s not panic here. There is a solution. And since you are reading this column, as I know you do every week, the solution involves refreshing beverages that are fun to enjoy. What, do I have to do all the thinking around here?  

Of course, in New Orleans, that solution is the same solution to a lot of questions and situations that we encounter throughout the calendar. But, no matter, it’s the life we have chosen to lead. Hooray for us!!

I guess if we were to be honest with ourselves – easier said than done – we would have to admit that there are moments when it does get a tad warm here, and the comfort index, with the humidity, can cause a person to perspire … just a bit.

Which brings us to cool, cool drinks. They should not be complicated to make and not full of heavy alcohol, which does cause the body to react, putting us of a mind that it’s warmer than it really is. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Actually, if you don’t mind, this writing and slaving over a hot keyboard is not the way for me to cool off. Allow me to get to a “medicine” cabinet and begin the cure for summertime conditions. Even though I am a professional, and usually caution you that these efforts are not to be undertaken lightly, I encourage you to follow along and try these potions at home.

The first two sangrias are made with Barefoot sparkling wine. The line-up of Barefoot Bubbles offers several levels of sugar content. If the suggested wine is too sweet for you, then drop back to a sparkling wine with lower sugar content, such as Brut.

Strawberry Lemonade Sangria
3 oz Barefoot moscato
1 oz orange liqueur
2 oz lemonade
2 oz lemon lime soda
½ lemon (squeezed)
2 slices lemon (quartered into 8 pieces)
1 sliced strawberry
Mint garnish

Grab a hurricane glass and fill it 2/3 full of ice. Add the ingredients in the order listed above, leaving about an inch at the top of your glass. Add a tall straw, garnish with mint.

Blueberry Pomegranate Sangria
3 oz Barefoot (red) moscato
1 oz orange liqueur
1 oz lemonade
½ oz pomegranate juice from concentrate
2 oz lemon lime soda
2 dozen frozen blueberries
Mint garnish

Combine the ingredients into a hurricane glass 2/3 full of ice. Add a tall alcohol straw and fresh mint.

I suggest you make a single drink first, see how it turns out for your taste, and then consider making a pitcher incorporating any refinements you determine. Keep in mind that the sparkling wine, the liqueur, the lemonade, pomegranate juice, soda and the strawberries/blueberries all contain sugar at some level. You may prefer to add in citrus to diminish the sugar effect, or you may choose to not use quite as much of one of the sugar ingredients.

But also remember that each ingredient brings more to the mix than just sugar. There are flavors involved. And all of this is by way of emphasizing that you try the recipe in a single serving before making a 55-gallon drum of the concoction for the next pool party.

VOGA, a line of wines from Italy, is probably best known for its pinot grigio and really sexy bottles. I’m certain a bunch of consumers have passed up the VOGA wines because they think they are high-end drinking water. But they are not. They are value-priced wines of fine quality. 

VOGA has now come out with a moscato product which means there is a light effervescence, which the Italians refer to as frizzante, created by a few vinification techniques, not the least of which is to stop the fermentation before it is fully complete and leaving some residual sugar in the final product. Moscato is such a fresh wine experience, very lively in terms of flavor.

Sunkissed Glow
4 ½ oz VOGA sparkling wine
2 oz vodka
Lime juice from 1 lime

In a shaker, combine ice, VOGA sparkling, vodka and lime juice. Stir gently and pour into a chilled Collins glass. Top with a splash of pineapple juice and garnish with fresh pineapple

Watermelon Pucker
3 ½ oz VOGA Sparkling
1 oz Watermelon Vodka
1 ½ oz Pink Lemonade

In a shaker, combine ice, VOGA sparkling, watermelon vodka and pink lemonade. Stir gently and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon peel.

And it may be that all of this gathering of ingredients and “mixology” stuff is too tiring. All is not lost. Head on over to Whisky Blue in the W Hotel on Poydras Street. Tell them to make you something special, maybe something called a …

Southern Smash
1.5 oz Ciroc Peach vodka
3 strawberries
4 lemon wedges
3⁄4 oz simple syrup

Muddle strawberries and lemon in a shaker. Add Ciroc Peach and simple syrup. Add ice. Shake well and strain into chilled martini glass. Garnish with a strawberry.

Summertime cool is not hard to achieve. Crank up the AC and sip into something refreshing. Why not enjoy this time of year instead of complaining about it? That’s a better way to go about it anyway.

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