PERFECT WINES AND BEER FOR BEACH, POOL, AND BBQ, PLUS BACKYARD BAR ESSENTIALS
by Tali Dalbaha
BACKYARD BAR BASICS
In this correspondent’s humble opinion, it’s essential to have a fully stock backyard bar in order to survive summer. That said, what constitutes “necessities” varies from person to person.
A mid-sized cooler for ice, beer, vodka, etc. My recent favorite is a Yeti Tundra 45 ($199) legendary toughness, with durable rotomolded construction and two inches of PermaFrost Insulation.
Cutting board and knife. “Big four” tools: Muddler, metal stirrer, strainer, and cocktail shaker.
This one’s controversial, but I go for plastic glasses/cups for backyard parties (just too many bare feet to risk it), but get the good stuff, like Pottery Barn’s Happy Hour Drinkware Collection, in a soft, see through glass like Tritan material. Set of four cocktail glasses for a remarkable $21.
A broad range of citrus. Lemons and limes, to be sure, but also oranges like mandarin and blood orange. Plus grapefruit. In the noncitrus family, don’t forget celery and cucumber.
Herbs and spices: I start with mint, rosemary, fennel, thyme, and basil.
In terms of bottles, be bold; try a Mezcal or rum you’ve never tasted before, and grab some Aperol (it’s just not summer without a spritz) and prosecco. And don’t forget coconut water increasingly popular with the non-booze crew.
POOL PARTY POURS
Occasionally, when contemplating the differences between two of my favorite fermented beverages, I’m reminded, surprisingly enough, of famous religious scold Martin Luther. Seemingly on an o day when not fomenting the Reformation and/or upbraiding Catholicism for its many 15th and 16th century abuses Luther observed: “Beer is made by men, wine by God.” He likely meant to exalt the second and diminish the first, but to me, both processes and results are magic. Summer, of course, is a particularly ethereal and magical time for wine drinking, and so we present a few new favorites to bring to the beach, picnic, poolside, and barbecue.
Felicie from Chateau Biac, which I first experienced at the Arcachon (The Hamptons of Bordeaux) while eating French oysters. Made mostly from Sauvignon blanc, only one barrel is made of this superb white, with its bright citrus flavor (orange blossom, predominantly) and high minerality. Beautifully refreshing, and at a remarkable $19.99.
Rosé from Provence should be a must on every list, and Famille Sumeire Cabaret Rosé is a new discovery, from a clan that has been making wines since 1991. Its ripe red fruit, with crisp flavor of green apple, is a perfect choice for lunch or easy afternoon get togethers. $17.99
Initio Muscat is a chic French bottle for the sweet wine lovers among us a brilliant product for sipping around the pool or with spicy Mexican cuisine. Its muscat grapes are highly aromatic, with honey ginger and yellow apple flavors.
For the increasingly numerous “wine in can” corps, one that’s double fun is Ruby Red Rosé in skinny cans rosé wine infused with grapefruit. Add a straw and you are all set for the Shore. $12.99 Super Buy Rite Wine & Liquor, 575 Manila Avenue, Jersey City, buyritewines.com
HOPPED UP: NEW SUMMER BREWS
The fast growing brewery Harpoon, with plants in Boston and Windsor, Vermont, has come out with One Hazy Summer, a refreshing and vibrant golden straw hued New England pale ale with gentle flavors of citrus, berry, and tropical fruit. $10.49 per six pack
A collaboration between Hatfield, PA’s Imprint Beer Co .and New Jersey’s own Bolero Snort Brewery (out of Ridgefield Park) has produced the must taste Rein Bro a sour ale with a funky color that will make your day…and maybe season. $14.49 per four pack. Bolero, by the way, broke ground on a new production facility and tap room in the Meadowlands in the spring, and hopes to have beer flowing there by the summer.
San Diego based Mikkeller Brewing (though founded in Copenhagen by the legendary Mikkel Borg Bjergsø), meanwhile, is releasing its seasonal Waves IPA. Clear straw in hue, topped by a creamy head. Aromas of white and pink grapefruit, a hint of pine, and lemon peel. A crisp and cracking good, pilsner like malt. Very West Coast.