Milan, Italy (1860s)

Situation: you’re gearing up for dinner, but it’s still a ways away. A Negroni sounds great, but in this heat? Not exactly refreshing. You just want a little something to sip on, something tall, something… satisfying. Satisfying without knocking you on your ass, if possible. Americano to the rescue.

Back in the 1860s, Gaspare Campari (yes, that Campari) ran a bar in Milan, the Caffè Campari. Locals enjoyed a late-afternoon cocktail of half-Campari / half-vermouth cut with seltzer they called the “Milano-Torino” (vermouth being from Turin and all). As more and more Americans visited Italy during Prohibition for a break from the squares ruining the party back home, the Milano-Torino became their favorite. So much so, the barkeep at Caffè Campari renamed it the “Americano.” Try it out next time you need a vacation from the heat.

THE KIT

Hardware: Jigger, Barspoon, Straw (optional)
Ice: Cracked ice
Glassware: Collins glass
Mixers & Liqueurs: Campari, Italian vermouth, Tonic water (recommended: Fever-Tree), sparkling mineral water (recommended: Pellegrino), or seltzer
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Orange wheel

HOW TO

In a Collins glass filled with cracked ice, add:

1 1/2 oz Campari
1 1/2 oz Italian vermouth

Stir well to blend and chill, then top with:

1 1/2 oz tonic water, sparkling mineral water, or seltzer

Stir lightly to blend and garnish with an orange wheel. Optionally, serve with a straw.

Pimm’s Oyster House, London, England (1840)

The Pimm’s Cup tastes like an iced tea that’s been out mowing the lawn. Earthy, refreshing, and simple to assemble, the Pimm’s Cup is made for sipping outdoors on a warm day. Bonus: its low proof means you won’t get smashed if you want to enjoy a couple. For some unknown (but brilliant) reason, these are popular in New Orleans, not just England.

Pimm’s (a gin-and-botanicals sling) was originally sold in 1840 as a digestive tonic at James Pimm’s Oyster House in London’s financial district. Over time, its popularity grew among the British elite at garden parties and sporting events, then spread around the world along with the Victorian British Empire. Thirsty for something more than the original gin version (renamed “Pimm’s #1” as the new versions appeared), its bottlings grew to Pimm’s #2 (Scotch), Pimm’s #3 (brandy), Pimm’s #4 (rum), Pimm’s #5 (rye), and Pimm’s #6 (vodka). As go empires, most of these have been discontinued, leaving just the original version to hold guard.

Simply combine Pimm’s #1 and some lemon soda over ice and garnish with a lemon wedge and cucumber slice. Yes, cucumber – trust me. It enhances the earthy sweetness in the mix. Lemon soda can be hard to come across – look for Lorina (sweeter) or San Pellegrino (drier) brands. If you’re coming up short, a lemon-flavored mineral water like Perrier will work. As a fallback, some people mix with 7-Up or ginger ale, but these will make the drink much sweeter than intended. A Pimm’s Cup is as close to an RTD (“ready to drink”) as I’ll ever be likely to recommend.

Last time I was in England, pubs were serving these all summer (although tricked out with strawberry and mint along with the traditional lemon and cucumber) so it’s nice to see that (at least in Old Blighty), traditions still endure. Foist one of these on an unsuspecting friend and you just may begin a new tradition in your home.

THE KIT

Hardware: Barspoon, Jigger, Straw (optional)
Ice: Cracked ice
Glassware: Collins glass
Mixers & Liqueurs: Pimm’s #1, Lemon soda (recommended: Lorina Original French Lemonade, San Pellegrino Limonata)
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Lemon wedge, Cucumber slice

HOW TO

In a Collins glass filled with cracked ice, add:

2 oz Pimm’s #1
3 oz lemon soda

Stir well to blend and chill, then garnish with a lemon wedge and cucumber slice. Optionally, serve with a straw.

Brazil (1750s, give or take)

When it’s too hot to spend more than a minute making a drink, the Caipirinha comes to the rescue (say it “kai-peer-EENyuh”). It’s the national drink of Brazil, made with cachaça (“kah-SHAH-sah”), a sugar-cane spirit much like the rhum agricole they make on Martinique and the other islands of the French West Indies. Where most rums are made from molasses, cachaça and rhum agricole are made directly from pressed fresh sugar cane, so you get all kinds of interesting vegetal, earthy flavors and aromas that aren’t there in rum.

The Portuguese word “caipirinha” means “hillbilly,” and from that you can guess the nature of this drink: a little rough, a little rustic. But so simple and delicious – for those who’ve never tried one, I say it’s halfway between a Margarita and a Daiquiri and they’re sold. Once you’ve made it the original way with lime, anything goes for the muddled fruit: pineapple, guava, tangerine, strawberry, passion fruit, kiwi, grape, mango… in fact, these fruit-laden versions have become more popular in Brazil than the original lime-only version, which is coming to be thought of as “Grandpa’s drink.” But to hell with that, Grandpa knows a thing or two.

Cachaça is Brazil’s national spirit: there are over 5,000 brands available down there. You may have a harder time than the Brazilians do tracking it down if you don’t live near a well-stocked shop… which is why God created Hi-Time. Have some shipped out in time for the next heat wave!

THE KIT

Hardware: Jigger, Muddler, Barspoon
Ice: Cracked ice
Glassware: Rocks glass
Spirits: Cachaça (recommended: Leblon, Sagatiba, Novo Fogo)
Mixers & Liqueurs: Simple syrup
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Lime chunks

HOW TO

In a rocks glass, add:

Half a lime, cored and cut into four chunks
1/2 oz simple syrup

Muddle well to express all lime juice and rind oils, then add cracked ice to fill to the rim and:

2 oz cachaça

Swizzle with the barspoon to blend and chill.