Drinks that sparkle on a summer afternoon - Sports Illustrated Vault | SI.com
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Drinks that sparkle on a summer afternoon

There is no thirst so reliable as that provoked by exercise under the summer sun. It comes without fail to golfers on the fairway and to every tennis man who has seen honest action at the baseline. But quenching the post-game thirst is one of those casual summer pleasures that deserves more consideration than it usually gets. The conventional drinks—tea, cold beer, gin and tonic, the Collins family and, of course, the whisky highball—have served well for so long that it rarely occurs to sportsmen that there are many other cool and mildly stimulating potions equally good for washing away the fatigue that follows exercise on a sunny afternoon.

The sportsman, for instance, who occasionally forgoes the traditional drinks and tries champagne instead does both himself and the wine a favor. Champagne has long suffered as the ritual drink at weddings and big dinners, where its message is often wasted on guests who have already had a stiffer filling of highballs and cocktails. When served as the first drink of the day, under the trees beside a tennis court, champagne has a chance to speak freely for itself.

Often it takes a quantity of liquid to put out the fire. In such cases, it is better to stay away from the potency of straight wine in favor of taller drinks that combine soda water with a light alcoholic base. One of the simplest and briskest of these is the Spritzer, which uses as a base the slightly sparkling wines of Germany and Switzerland (any light, dry white wine will do). A new apéritif from eastern France with an Italian name, Positano, also goes well with soda, and so does the sweet Italian vermouth Punt e Mes (in mixing this one, the soda and ice should go into the glass first). A slightly more complex and stronger-flavored tall drink is the americano, a light red refresher combining the Italian apéritif Bitter Campari (one jigger) with an equal amount of a sweet Italian vermouth (Martini & Rossi, Cinzano and Carpano are excellent choices), mixed with soda and ice and garnished with a slice of lemon or orange.

Scotch, bourbon and rum and Coke will always be favored as long, tall, strong drinks—but there is cr√®me de menthe and water, too, cool and minty and unusual. And Pernod, that greenish-yellow French apéritif that dissolves into a cloudy, clinking highball when ice and water are added. Some hardy, hidebound sportsmen claim that Pernod tastes like medicine and is fit only for absinthe-sipping fops. The same sort of charges were lodged against gin and tonic some years back—and today the world is awash in the stuff.

Plain and fancy offerings for quenching thirst in the early afternoon range from iced tea with rum (left) to champagne (right). Splits of dry champagne give tone and sparkle as well as energy to postgame gatherings. Add rum, a jigger or a pony, to iced tea as you prefer.

The Americano was invented in 1890 by Italians as a hospitable gesture toward American tourists who favored tall mixed drinks. A tart drink combining Bitter Campari and sweet Italian vermouth in equal portions, it is a fine pick-me-up after exercise as well as a stimulating apéritif.

Two from France, crème de menthe and Pernod (shown against a backdrop of the Grade Towers pool in New York) make excellent refreshers. Diluted with ice water, Pernod is deceptively mild and milky. It has a licorice flavor. Crème de menthe is surprisingly cool and light.