Summer: it turns me upside down. Summer, summer, summer: it’s like a merry-go-round. It was true for Ric Ocasek many years ago and it’s true for the rest of us today, because Monday is Memorial Day, so here comes summer!
“Summering. Drinking. Summering and drinking. For the prep, the two words are synonymous from Memorial Day to Labor Day.” -Tipsy in Madras
Summer drinking is a fantastically elaborate endeavor among the set that uses “summer” as a verb-there are drinks you drink at the club (Southsides), drinks you drink while getting ready for Saturday evening charity balls (known as “dressers,” they can be whatever you fancy, usually a beer for men and for ladies something made with soda water), drinks you drink in the wee hours after the black tie is over, when the bar you went to afterwards has played “God Bless America” to signal last call, and you’ve all congregated at the home of whoever volunteered to host late-night (Jack & Ginger, and then later, when you’ve run out of ginger ale, Jack rocks). And then there’s the drink you drink on a boat.
This is the cocktail that screams summer more loudly than any other, howling through its lockjaw, “Jolie! Summertime is upon us! Throw on a Lilly and grab your Boat and Tote, we’re going out on the Seas the Day!”
I speak, of course, of the Dark and Stormy.
Or, as it’s more fondly known, the Stark and Dormy.
Have one or two and then try to ask for a third coherently. Go on, I’ll wait.
Right, so! Stark and Dormy it is: this incredibly delicious and for whatever reason incredibly intoxicating mix of dark rum, ginger beer and lime.
Purists will tell you that you must use Gosling’s rum. And actually, the sort who gets tetchy about the specific type of rum one must use in any given drink will more than tell you-they’ll insist in a horribly superior way, sniffing in your general direction, “Everyone knows the only rum that’s acceptable in a Dark and Stormy is Gosling’s. Only a rube would use a lesser brand.”
Purists have no particular place in our world, now do they?
I say go on and use that Meyers! Get wild with some Whaler’s! But whatever you do you must promise me-PROMISE ME. I WANT TO HEAR YOU SAY IT.-that you will NOT use Captain Morgan’s in your Stark and Dormy.
Look, we all love a jaunty captain. Particularly one with those fresh buckled boots and swishy cape. Still: his product is abhorrent. Ick, spiced rum *makes face* And also? We’re not making Stark and Spormies.
As for the ginger beer, those insufferable purists have an opinion about that too! And just to annoy them I’m not going to tell you what it is! I will, however, tell you that Trader Joe’s carries Reed’s ginger beer and if it’s good enough for Trader Joe it’s good enough for me. (I do need to take a moment to speak directly to the fine folks at the Reed’s: Your recipe for Dark and Stormies calls for light rum. Light rum. LIGHT rum. Ah yes, we’re clear on the problem now? Can we get that fixed?)
Now that we’ve discussed our primary ingredients, let’s turn our attention to most important topic: Ice.
I have a conflicted heart on the subject of ice and summertime cocktail assemblage. I’m predisposed to prefer a crushed ice to a cubed ice for mixed drinks (and can we pause here to engage in a bit of collective EXCITED CLAPPING!!! in celebration of the glory that is crushed ice? Good God damn, I do love crushed ice.) but crushed ice, with its delicate constitution, suffers terribly in the hotter months. After giving the matter more thought than I care to admit, I’ve decided to prescribe two approaches and let you decide which is best for you, based on the speed at which you drink and your relative level of alcoholism:
1. Use crushed ice and serve in a lowball glass
2. Use cubed ice and serve in a highball glass
Speaking of glassware: If you’re enjoying this cocktail on a boat (and my God, you really, really should be) please remember that safety comes first-use plastic glassware. Hush up, yes, I call it plastic glassware. Oh goodness and?! You should know that you can get personalized plastic glassware (and my God, you really, really should) which will allay concerns about those terribly common red SOLO cups clashing with your pastels.
With our safety warning out of the way, let’s make some drinks, shall we!?! Gather ’round and listen closely, because you’ll be tested on this: Put some ice in a glass. Pour rum over ice. Top with ginger beer. Squeeze a lime wedge and drop it into the glass.
(Officially, the drink should be 1 part rum to 4 parts ginger beer but I can’t even type that with a straight face.)
To help you get into the spirit of preppy drinking, and to heighten your enjoyment of the summeriest drink in summertown, I’ve made you a playlist of sweet songs to slur along to.
A Stark and Dormy Summer Playlist: Songs for Drunken Boating
“Southern Cross,” Crosby, Stills & Nash
“Your Love,” The Outfield
“Stir It Up,” Bob Marley & The Wailers
“Sugar Magnolia,” Grateful Dead
“Glad Tidings,” Van Morrison
“Bad Moon Rising,” Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Caught Up In You,” .38 Special
“Take It on the Run,” REO Speedwagon
“Second Hand News,” Fleetwood Mac
“Don’t Do Me Like That,” Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
“I’m Goin’ Down,” Bruce Springsteen
“Since You’re Gone,” The Cars
“So Far Away,” Dire Straits
“St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion),” John Parr
“Already Gone,” The Eagles
“Burning for You,” Blue Oyster Cult
“Abracadabra,” The Steve Miller Band
“I Can Dream About You,” Dan Hartman
“Sussudio,” Phil Collins
“Friends in Low Places,” Garth Brooks
Jolie Kerr is very pro-“summer”-as-a-verb.
Photo by Camilla Bradley.