Labor Day weekend — Summer’s last hurrah! — is back, and it’s time to switch up the cocktail menu. It’s too damn hot for another craft beer. Turn on the sprinkler, bust out the Slip ‘N Slide, and pour a round of stiff ones for the neighbors. If the kids are old enough to put themselves to bed, amen, and keep on pouring. Long weekends pairs parents with cocktails like first-graders with gun-hoses and hotdogs with mustard.
It’s 5:00 in Puerto Rico, so let’s get started.
Here in Texas, beer just doesn’t stay cold in the Summer for more than five seconds, so unless you’re shot-gunning cans of Budweiser like it’s 1999, you’re going to want to focus on spirits. Yep; the hard stuff, served on the rocks, and stiff as a wooden nickel, enough to stand up to the melting ice, screaming kids, and the cold stare of a befuddled neighbor when Skynyrd’s Free Bird comes echoing off your walls after sunset.
At BadDaddy, we’ve got your bases covered, whiskey, tequila, and vodka, plus the Snakebite, a true wildcard. Save the gin for Aunt Maude, and join me for a summer stroll down easy street, where the kids seem well-mannered, the burgers are juicy and fresh off the grill, and your glass is always half full. Good times, noodle salad.
- The Right Way to Make a Margarita
As simple as tic-tac-toe, the summer sombrero of spirits is consistently butchered by corporate conglomerates selling neon sugar-water up and down the grocery isles like a nuclear meltdown. I’ve had better drinks at ChuckeCheeses (smuggling them in).
Just remember the ratio “3:2:1”, and you’ll get it right every time.
Three parts Camarena or Hornitas tequila, two parts fresh lime juice, and one part Contreau (if your budget is tight, sub Bols triple sec). Pour over ice, lean back, and put your feet up.
The secret, my friends, is not just to avoid the mixers, but buy some ripe, bulging green limes (C cups if you can find ‘em) and juice ‘em yourself. Don’t and I mean NEVER use store-bought mixer or prepackaged lime juice. You’re a head-of-household now, damn it. Get yourself a mechanical juicer. Then smash it over your knee, throw it out on the street, go back to Target with a wad of crisp fifties, and buy another one. Use it at work, call it a business expense, and deduct it on your income tax return.
- Ted Turner’s Big Sky Lemonade
Turn off CNN, and get your hands wrapped around Ted Turner’s best accomplishment since the 1995 Atlanta Braves. This is my official personal cocktail for Summer’s 2017, 2018, and 2019 (hopefully). I’m drinking one right now.
If the Margarita is remembered as 3:2:1, this one is even easier, at 1:1:1. One part Jim Beam Kentucky Bourbon, one part Contreau, and one part lemonade. Serve over ice in a tumbler. There are plenty of variations on the whiskey-lemonade, but none better than this.
I can’t take the credit; it’s on the menu at Ted’s Montana Grill in Atlanta, but I turned up the octane on the ratios like the bad-ass daddy that I am. These flavors come together like a warm summer breeze and an afternoon sun-shower under a giant Texas oak tree. Make two, set up a movie theatre out in the yard, grab your wife by the jean shorts, and pull her close. Life’s too short to quibble about finances. Kiss and make-up already.
- ATX Peach Tea
ATX means Austin, TX, and it doesn’t get any easier than this. I invented it one afternoon when I wanted something like an Arnold Palmer, but with a short skirt, cowboy boots, and the bounce of a young brunette in the beginning of her second trimester (Ashley just walked by…).
The ratios are 1:1 here, half Austin’s own Deep Eddy Peach Vodka, and half Blackberry Peach Iced Tea (Republic of Tea brand). Serve it over ice in mason jars. Three drink minimum, and no screen time allowed.
Tell Alexa to put on some John Mellencamp (Small Town or Little Pink Houses) and turn off the recording feature for the night (sorry CIA). These taste so good the kids wouldn’t know the difference if they came packaged in a juice box. It’s like being in a Pixar movie, or that time you ate mushrooms in college. Everything is just more vivid with these.
- The Snakebite
The day will come when you’ve finally overplayed the Margarita, even done right, but still crave tequila in something other than a shot-glass. It took me twenty years, but it happened in the Fall of 2015. We stumbled on this by confusing a recipe in a token cocktail book, and have been thanking fate ever since. It’s 10x better this way.
Recipe: Four equal parts, Camarena tequila, Contreau, Drambuie, and freshly squeezed lemon juice (not lemonade). Add a few drops of Angostura Bitters to each glass after pouring over a tumbler of ice. Don’t serve these before 4:00 PM. Few have the stamina to go all day after a few rounds of Snake Bites. This one goes best with some acoustic guitar. Bust it out if you got one, or put on some Sheryl Crow.
I still remember the sparkle in Ashley’s eyes when she tried it (in a sky blue tanktop, dark tan, tight white skirt, and cowboy boots, yet again…).
For those that lost count, these recipes are about as strong as a steel girder, so leave the calendar open on Tuesday morning. Percentage spirits (80-proof) are as follows-
Big Sky Lemonade: 67%
ATX Peach Tea: 50%
Snake Bite: 75%
Yep; a little garnish goes a long way around here, and you deserve something more this Labor Day than a shiny Coors Light sizzling in the hot summer sun. You can tune up or down to taste, but these are the sweet spots to start your engines.
Just confirm your guests are walking home, and hide your mother-in-law’s keys. Mine got pulled over and handed the cop her debit card after we invented the Snakebite. Enjoy!!
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Like this column? Make your weekends count, but keep the cocktails in check while on the road to help things run smoothly at home.