Wine & Spirits: Summertime and the Sipping’s Easy

by WL Author

It’s almost Memorial Day weekend. What to drink? Think crisp white wines and light-bodied reds that won’t make you melt in the sweltering heat, refreshing libations on the rocks, and farm-to-glass concoctions with the freshest summer produce.

By Kelly A. Magyarics


Summer cocktails are refreshing and make the most of the season.

Are you thirsty yet?


Head to EatBar for their Beach Bash wine tasting party.

Mmm…this time of year I find myself reaching for wines like Vinho Verde, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Rosés and Dolcetto—bottles that aren’t not necessarily cerebral, but are refreshing and soooo easy to drink on the patio. If you need some inspiration for bottles to cart to the beach or on the boat, head to Arlington’s EatBar on Saturday, June 5 from 1-4 PM for the Second Annual Big Beach Wine Bash. Sip your way through twenty-five lip smacking, cooling siummer wines specially chosen by Neighborhood Restaurant Group Wine Director Juliana Santos, including a Shiraz from d’Arenberg, Australia; Grenache blend from Mas Quindals, Spain; Rose of Pinot Noir from Anne Amie, Oregon and Viognier from Las Perdices, Argentina. Executive Chef Barry Koslow will offer tasty bites to complement the wines including calamari ceviche with mango and chilies, caramelized onion and olive focaccia and crab fritters with remoulade. Sip, nosh and mingle while watching surf flicks, bouncing beach balls and rocking to Dick Dale and the Ventures. Tickets are $25 per person, for reservations, please call Tallula (703) 778-5051 or e-mail Matt Molaski at

Bacardi's new cocktails in a bottle are perfect for impromptu summer entertaining.

Bacardi's new cocktails in a bottle are perfect for impromptu summer entertaining.

Hand crafted cocktails made from fresh ingredients, exotic liqueurs, bitters, and striking garnishes are fabulous. But sometimes they just require too much effort when all you want is to get your drink on. And let’s face it: the slow, lazy days of summer are anything but. You may be doing more entertaining during the warmer months (think pool parties, barbecues, picnics, clam bakes, evenings on the boat), and too often you don’t have time to mix up cocktails from scratch. But a new batch of products does the work for you. Bacardi’s Pina Colada and Strawberry Daiquiri cocktails in a bottle already include the booze, and are designed to be enjoyed on the rocks—no blending required. I recently got my hands on a bottle of the Pina Colada, and was pleasantly surprised—it has coconut water instead of coconut cream, so it’s pretty light. I served it over ice in a rocks glass, with a lime wedge. It would also be lovely topped with Prosecco or club soda. Each is available in a 750-ml and1.75 ml bottle, for $12.99 and $19.99.

Café Atlantico recently started up their Farmer’s Market Dinner series for the season, where Chef shops at the Penn Quarter Farmer’s Market each week and offers up a three course meal for $45. To accompany that, new mixologist Owen Thomson (formerly behind the stick at Bourbon) will be offering a weekly Farm to Glass cocktail. Thomson will shop at the market on Thursday and obtain fresh/local/organic ingredients that he will feature in a special cocktail all weekend long. One of his recent creations was dubbed Cool Hand Cuke, with Sub Rosa Tarragon Vodka, Black Rock Farms Baby Persian Cucumber Juice, black pepper and thyme simple syrup, fresh lemon and some of his “Spice Dram #2.” Yum. Drinks will change weekly, and each will be offered all weekend long.

Speaking of Owen Thomson and his amazing creations, here is a recipe he shared with me for one of his homemade wine coolers. Now, before you scoff at the idea of a drink that might remind you of cloyingly sweet bottles chugged during high school parties, remember that decidedly adult versions of wine coolers exist that are deliciously complex. Thomson has experimented with several of these, but I really like the fruity, herbal combo of blackberries and sage. You can prep the syrup in advance, and leave it out next to a chilled bottle of wine with instructions for guests to mix up their own coolers.

Mix up a Blackberry Sage Wine Cooler this weekend.

Mix up a Blackberry Sage Wine Cooler this weekend.

Blackberry Sage Wine Cooler
Courtesy of Owen Thomson, Café Atlantico, Washington, DC
1/3 cup blackberry puree (blend fresh blackberries until liquified, strain out solids)
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
12 fresh sage leaves
Dry Riesling

Add first four ingredients to a medium pot. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Remove sage leaves. Store in refrigerator in a container with a tightly fitting lid for up to one week.

To make wine cooler: Add ice and a 2:1 ratio of dry Riesling and syrup to a glass. For a more pronounced wine flavor, use a 3:1 ratio of wine to syrup.

Kelly Magyarics is a wine and spirits writer, and wine educator,  in the Washington, DC area. She can be reached through her website,, or on

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