When a journalist gets assigned a piece on alcohol, she simply does not say no. She puts on her serious face, enlists the help of her alcohol-friendly friends and begins the grueling research. And that’s exactly what I did this week to warmly usher in summertime in the Bay Area. Equipped with a freezer full of half-empty handles with missing caps and a group of thirsty roommates, I concocted the perfect mix of Bay Area-themed cocktails to celebrate the demise of the school year and the beginning of everyone’s favorite season. I have strived to deliver on all of your temptations, but if I’ve left out your favorite summertime cocktail recipe, leave it in the comments!
1. Strawberry Creek Sangria: The creek may be running unpleasantly dry, but that doesn’t mean your thirst is. Cool off on the back porch after a long day of doing menial work at your unpaid internship while paying your respects to the major landscape feature of the Berkeley campus.
- 1 leftover can of ginger ale or Sprite from your last house party
- 1 bottle of a cheap red wine from Trader Joe’s (I suggest Albero Tempranillo for some organic Spanish pizazz)
- 1 lime, sliced into rounds
- ½ pound of strawberries, sliced lengthwise
- 1 apple, diced
- 3 to 4 shots of brandy (To be honest, I substituted Captain Morgan because of our lack of classiness, but brandy works best.)
- 2 handfuls of your favorite berries (I used blackberries, but raspberries are a great option.)
- ½ bottle of carbonated water
- Ice cubes
Now here’s what you do: Combine all ingredients — besides ice and carbonated water — in a punch bowl or pitcher. For the fruit to absorb all flavors, refrigerate overnight (though I was a bit impatient and refrigerated the concoction for only 20 minutes). Pour into glasses over ice. Add a splash of carbonated water.
Roommate reactions: “But are these apples locally sourced?” —Giana
2. Golden Gate Spritz: The famous burnt-red shade of the Golden Gate Bridge was not an intentional choice of color. But thank God for the accidental miracle! Today the bridge serves as a wonder of the modern world, an internationally recognized symbol of San Francisco and the inspiration for drink No. 2 on my summertime cocktail list.
- 3 parts Prosecco
- 2 parts Aperol (Suggestion: Substitute Aperol with Campari for your sweet-toothed friend who usually drinks solely Smirnoff Ice at parties.)
- 1 part soda water
Now here’s what you do: Mix together all ingredients. Garnish with orange slices. Enjoy at North Beach — the closest you’ll get this summer to the Italian birthplace of this timeless cocktail.
Roommate reactions: “Orange is the new black.” —Soni
3. The Bitter Truth: It’s not a Bay Area cocktail list without a bitter kiss of fernet, a San Francisco favorite. The herbal astringent is so medicinal tasting that it’s a surprise we bought this at BevMo and not at Happy High Herbs on Channing Way. Pharmaceutics aside, fernet has pleased Bay Area devotees for decades. This drink is perfect for that one guy who just returned from his study-abroad term and now wants his alcohol to actually taste like alcohol. Can also be enjoyed with your grandpa.
- 2 parts rye whiskey
- 1 part vermouth
- As much Angostura bitters a your heart desires
- A dash of fernet
Now here’s what you do: Stir it all up. Add a cherry on top. Pretend you like it.
Roommate reactions: “Not for the faint of heart.” —Kris
4. Hella High Summer Shandy: With a sadly low alcohol content, this summertime shandy recipe (if we can even call it a recipe) is perfect for your friend who has had one too many at your backyard barbeque. While any golden-colored beer works, we tried out local favorite Hell or High Watermelon wheat beer (which is pretty mild in taste) and combined it with sour Santa Cruz Organic limeade for a hint of citric tartness.
- 3 parts Hell or High Watermelon beer
- 2 parts limeade
- Lemon or lime to garnish
Now here’s what you do: Self-explanatory at this point, don’t you think?
Roommate reactions: “Try this one out at the top of the Big C.” —Natasha
5. Bears or Bust: Even though it’s not football season, school spirit is a year-round thing. Celebrate the fact that you go to the nation’s No. 1 public university with a cocktail in hand. As the Beach Boys would say, “Be true to your school. … Let your colors fly!”
- 2 parts vodka
- 2 parts Blue Curacao
- Margarita mix
- As much pineapple juice as your heart desires
Now here’s what you do: Combine alcohol and syrup. Add pineapple juice on top for a blue-and-gold-ombre beverage. Take a selfie with your blue tongue.
Roommate reactions: “Hashtag Go Bears.” —Kai