Nothing quite says summer like taking in the good weather outside with a few friends, drink in hand. But don’t despair if you’re not among the blessed few with a walled-in garden. The apartment-dwelling urbanites among us can throw a garden party, too, now and then, even if the closest thing we have to the outdoors is a few striving herbs on the fire escape. Just remember that the most important expression of summer’s greenery and fruit is the one in your glass.
Tennis whites, seersucker, or blazers and pastel pants for the gents; brightly colored dresses, precarious hats and fascinators for the ladies.
The Mint Julep: it’s not just for the Kentucky Derby. It’s the daytime drink of choice in many mid-twentieth century guides to entertaining, back when a garden parties were a regular occurrence. Since there’s no risk of offending the Kentuckians if you don’t use bourbon this time, try it with Rittenhouse Rye.
Or, if you’d like a tall drink for a warm day, pick up a bottle of sloe gin (I recommend Plymouth). The Sloe Gin Fizz has a slightly lower alcohol content compared your regular gin, which means a thirsty crowd won’t become a riot if they over-imbibe while battling the heat.
1-1/2 ounces Sloe Gin
1 ounce lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
Shake the sloe gin, lemon juice and sugar with ice in a shaker. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice cubes and fill the rest of the glass with soda. Serve with a straw.
If you have ever thought of making canapés or cucumber sandwiches, this is the perfect moment. They may be associated most often with tea-time or appetizers, but they serve as ideal light accompaniment for outdoor refreshment.
Prohibition-era jazz suits the feel of a garden party, and lends it a bit of an air of a bygone time when what you were sipping was an illegal substance. Try these mixes of 1920s and ‘30s jazz — Party Like It’s 1928 and TomCat Jazz Mix — for starters.