We have hit prime picnic season here in Seattle. Sunset has officially broken the 9 o’clock mark, which means light in the skies until after 10. Regardless of how late we leave the office, we really have no reason not dine outdoors. And, what better way to picnic than with some stealthy spirits.
Technically, Seattle city law prohibits alcohol in parks. So um, I’m clearly not condoning breaking open container laws…I’m simply suggesting a few workarounds! There are ways to enjoy a little sumpin’ sumpin’ without popping corks in plain sight. But, you know…drink at your own risk, people.
For RF and me, 2015 was the Summer of the Spiked Arnold Palmer. Though not hard to make from scratch, I would pre-chill a couple of Ball jars of Newman’s Own Lemonade Iced Tea with a (generous) splash of bourbon, then add a few ice cubes when we were ready to head out to the park (or, already there.) Very refreshing! And such a lovely color complement to the sunset.
I think we might need to expand our secret cocktail game this year. The best options have only a couple of ingredients, don’t require muddling or infusing or a tap dance or anything fancy, but that doesn’t mean they have to be boring.
Option 1: Tinto de Verano
Influenced by our time in Spain, I’m excited to try this Iberian take on a traditional wine spritzer, which would also be quite lovely for a picnic. The surprise here, however, is the 50/50 combo of red wine (aka vino tinto) and lemon-lime soda. The Tinto de Verano is a pretty easy sneak. Pre-package portable cups with wine, preferably a lighter red, then add ice and an equal amount of chilled soda (plus a sliver of citrus, if you’re feeling extravagant) at your picnic spot. Et voilà! Or should I say, y aquí?!
Option 2: Dark and Stormy
RF and I weren’t huge fans of Bermuda, but we did enjoy our fair share of these piquant cocktails while we were there. Ginger is my jam – the zestier the better. There are two keys to making the perfect Dark & Stormy. OK, maybe three, but one should be a given – quality rum. I believe in quality booze regardless of the drink. If you’re going to skimp, buy cheap ginger ale. But really, don’t do that either! The best Dark & Stormy is made with legit ginger beer, not ginger ale. In Bermuda, the rum is Goslings and the ginger beer is Barritt’s. In Seattle, I’m fond of Rachel’s Ginger Beer.
So, key #1 is good rum. Key #2 is quality ginger beer. Key # 3 is the appropriate ratio. Aim for 2 parts rum to 3 parts ginger beer, and you should be happy. Some claim that the rum should be layered on top. I recommend pre-pouring the booze and adding your mixer on site, which means you’d be making it upside-down. Ultimately, I think the most important direction is bottoms up!
Option 3: POG Punch
If you’re feeling tropical, nothing is easier than whipping up a little POG Punch. POG is a popular Hawaiian fruit juice mix that you can find pre-made in the islands, and I’ve seen it in many mainland grocery stores as well. POG = passion orange guava. So, you can always mix your own by combining 2 parts passion fruit juice, 2 parts pink guava nectar, and 1 park orange juice. (Look for Ceres, Goya, and Jumex fruit nectars.) Or, keep it even easier and opt for one of the Dole/Tropicana fruit juice blends found in most grocery stores. They work just as well.
OK, I know I said quality liquor, but trust me on this one: Malibu. It’s cheesy, but coconut rum just adds an extra layer of tropical goodness to all that fruit juice. A lot of recipes add champagne or sparkling wine for extra zest; you can, but it’s not at all necessary. Bonus: you can make a big batch before you set off for the great outdoors, store in the original fruit juice containers, and pour into cups at your picnic. Kid’s stuff!