Welcome To The Summer Drinking Season

Remember how, back at the outset of last summer, you promised yourself that this time you weren’t going to let the season go to waste? How you had such ambitious hopes and schemes? And how, seemingly seconds later, Labor Day rolled around and you were all, “Wait! What? I… d’oh!”

Well, that’s alright. Summers are meant to be wasted. They are the disposable months of the year during which expectations are low and performance follows accordingly. You’re sweaty, you’re listless, you’re not trying very hard… and it’s okay. It’s summer! Relax! And you know what? If you’re going to waste your summer, you might as well spend your summer wasted. May I suggest a cocktail?

While some opt for the Dark and Stormy, and others plump for the Negroni (with unfortunate consequences), we take a different libation where I’m from. The Official Balk Family Drink of the Summer is, at heart, a gin and tonic, but with one important addition: a splash of Campari.

Too simple, you say? Ah, my friend, you obviously have not had The Official Balk Family Drink of the Summer. While there’s nothing wrong with your basic gin and tonic, the splash of Campari… oh, the difference it makes. It is also an excellent test of manliness (if you are a man), since you have to be comfortable enough with yourself to be holding a pink drink throughout the afternoon and into the evening. I probably do not need to do this, but just in case your brain is as fried as mine is right now, here’s how you make a gin and tonic with a splash of Campari:

Gin (The Balk Family prefers Tanqueray, but feel free to use your brand of choice. I would avoid Bombay Sapphire, however; the saltiness that makes it so exquisite in a Martini does not play well with the tang of the tonic and bite of the Campari in this drink.)

1. Pour gin and tonic over ice into a highball glass. I have a heavy hand, and tend to pour a ratio of 1:1 when it comes to gin and tonic, but that does not go over well with everyone, and, come to think of it, I have never served this drink without at least one person ending up in tears, which may have something to do with the large amount of gin. Use your best judgment.

2. Add a splash of Campari. How much is a splash? Generations of Balks have debated this very subject with Talmudic levels of interpretation. You will eventually find your own metric, but for now do this: Fill the cap of the Campari bottle to the top, and dump it into the drink.

3. Give it one quick yet gentle stir.

4. Squeeze the lime into the drink and then garnish. Always lime, never lemon. (There is a possibly apocryphal tale about a relative who once attempted to use an orange, only to be drummed out of the family, but the story has never been verified and I have never had the urge to see how such an unorthodox and disturbing idea would play out in practice. You don’t mess with perfection.)

5. Sit back, relax and watch your summer go by like every summer before has, borne aloft on the wings of alcohol and its boon of temporary forgetfulness. I mean, yeah, you could probably do the same thing with beer, but this is much much better. Enjoy!