Sunshine + low-octane spirits = perfect day drinking conditions


Warm weather brunches drip with mimosas, micheladas, bellinis and beers. But what happens when you want to kick it up a notch and continue the day well past the noon hour? Thanks to a new book by writer Kat Odell, day drinking is getting shaken up a bit.

In Day Drinking: 50 Cocktails for a Mellow Buzz, the founding editor of Eater Drinks explains that the key to imbibing like a pro before sundown is to keep the alcohol content low, so you can maintain an optimal level of tipsiness all afternoon.

“Low-alcohol cocktails ensure a good time with no regrets,” she notes. The most successful daytime cocktails feature low-octane spirits that pair well with food while also being low-calorie, to keep drinkers from feeling weighed down in the hot weather.

Far from being an American invention, day drinking is a global phenomenon with a long history, and it gets a lot more sophisticated than shotgunning MGDs with the bros on Mission Beach. In Spain, when the mercury reaches triple digits, Andalusians cool down with an icy mix of sherry and Sprite. Brits attending a cricket match sip an aromatic Pimm’s Cup, and Italians quaff herbaceous amari to “open the appetite” before lunch.

And around these parts, San Diegans drink vermouth over ice with lemon and simple syrup. Or so says Polite Provisions bartender Erick Castro, whose recipe for his cocktail called the Django Reinhardt is featured in Odell’s book.

“In the summer, between cookouts and barbecues, you want to be festive and drink all day, but if you’re throwing back Manhattans and Old Fashioneds, you’re not going to last very long,” says Castro, who named the Django after his favorite jazz musician. He says the drink matches the guitarist’s delicate, playful, lighthearted musical style.

For Odell, day drinking “is more of a mindset than anything else - the idea of relaxing, slowing down, stopping to savor a moment with friends over delicious drinks, without necessarily getting drunk.” (She even includes a few recipes for flavorful, alcohol-free mocktails; it doesn’t get much more low-octane than that.)

So get sipping, San Diego. It’s bound to be five o’clock somewhere.

Django Reinhardt

From Erick Castro of Polite Provisions in San Diego.

Makes 1 cocktail

3 ounces dry white vermouth

3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice

3/4 ounce simple syrup (see note)

3 orange slices

Combine the vermouth, lemon juice, simple syrup, and 2 of the orange slices in a cocktail shaker and muddle to break down the orange. Add ice cubes to fill the shaker three-quarters full; cover and shake to chill, about 15 seconds.

Fill a rocks glass with ice cubes and strain the cocktail over the ice. Garnish with the remaining orange slice.

Note: To make your own simple syrup, combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan and heat slowly until it simmers, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let cool and refrigerate in an airtight container; it will keep for about a month in the fridge.

Excerpted from Day Drinking: 50 Cocktails for a Mellow Buzz by Kat Odell (Workman Publishing). Copyright 2017.