Serious Eats: Drinks

Beat the Summer Heat with Tall, Fizzy Refreshers

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[Photo: Robyn Lee]

Regardless of any heat waves that you may have already endured, summer didn't officially arrive until yesterday. With several months of sunshine, backyard parties and long evenings to come, it's time to settle into the season with a refresher course on highballs, rickeys, fizzes and bucks—the primo drinks of summer.

In today's Washington Post, Jason Wilson dips into this broad family of sparkling coolers that generations of thirsty Americans have used to beat back the fiercest sweltering weather. As Wilson notes, there's not a great deal of variance on paper between these drinks, but these seemingly minor differences can mean a lot when the drink is in your glass. He writes:

The drinks seem almost interchangeable; they're all various combinations of spirits and soda mixers, served over ice in a Collins or highball glass. But when you look closely, the way a cocktail nerd would, you'll start to see that small variations make for big differences in taste."

So what are these differences, and what significance might they have when you're fixing a drink for yourself or your guests?

Here's the general breakdown:

While a certain degree of the discussion is simple nomenclature and taxonomy, which most people don't give a whit about if they're just trying to mix a damn drink, things have specific names for a reason. If what your guest wants is something ginny and lemony but not too sour, and tall and cold and fizzy over ice, and they ask for a Tom Collins and you hand them something that just, well, isn't a Tom Collins, then something's askew in your host-guest relationship, which is not something anyone wants at a party.

Plus, from these simple building blocks, it's easy to expand outward, trying different spirits or different sweeteners (liqueurs or syrups in place of sugar in a Collins? An Italian amaro in place of bourbon in a buck? Well, why not...), and coming up with new drinks along the way. From simple things come greatness, and if you want your summer gathering to fall into the "Great!" column, starting with these simple drinks may just help things along considerably.


Printed from http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2011/06/what-is-the-difference-between-collins-fizz-highball-rickey.html

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