By Jami English
June 2007

There is a palpable excitement in the air as the days grow longer and warmer just prior to the summer solstice. Even though the official start of vacation season is still a few weeks away, restaurants and bars boasting alfresco seating suddenly become the literal hot–spots — their gardens, patios, and sidewalks overflowing with winter–weary patrons itching to finally soak up the sun — and have a cocktail. Without brutal winter weather standing in their way, people are more apt to venture out of bed a bit earlier to enjoy a boozy brunch with friends, and lingering a little longer over after–work drinks becomes perfectly acceptable — why rush home when the sun doesn’t set until half past eight? Simply put, summer is conducive to drinking, and increased liquor sales provide a sizeable revenue boost for restaurants during the notoriously slow summer season.

As for the drinks: come summertime, cocktails shed their heavy winter layers of dark liquor and heady spices to embrace refreshing spirits with summery floral and citrus notes. Honeydew melon adds velvety texture and festive color to rum, grass vodka gets even fresher when mixed with lemonade, and gin, the classic summer stand–by, gets a kick from cucumber, mint and lime juice. These exuberant flavor combinations result in some pretty cool cocktails.

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