Summer drink fare beats the heat

With summer fun in full swing and summer heat in tow, few luxuries compare with a refreshing cocktail whilst out on the town. But what makes the perfect summer drink? Area restaurateurs offer their unique twists on the concept.

“It really has to do with the elements,” said Louise Wood, co-owner of Culture Cafe on Scotland Street.

Wood said the ingredients should include something refreshing, such as fresh fruit or herbs, to counter the warm weather.

“It just has to be something that screams summer,” she said.

Such Culture Cafe offerings include fruit-based slushies, usually served with rum.

“Then it becomes more of a tropical type of thing,” Wood said.

Other popular choices include a combination of cucumber-infused rosewater and Hendrick’s Gin mixed into a teacup or a banana milkshake infused with Plantation Rum.

For those who prefer wine as their spirit of choice, the Spanish fare of La Tienda on Jamestown Road might be a worthy option in the effort to beat the heat.

“Especially here in Virginia with the humidity, we need something that’s not too heavy,” said general manager Molly Zaken.

Zaken said you can’t go wrong with some simple sangria during the summer, when it’s one of the most popular offerings at the restaurant and its shop. Genio Espanol rose is also a highlight, she said.

“Summer is perfect rose weather,” she said.

Zaken recommended gin and tonics as another simple-yet-effective spirit for summer.

“You can play with so many flavors,” Zaken said of the season. “I would say it needs to be light, refreshing, with a touch of sweetness that makes you forget about the summer heat.”

For dessert, there are sweeter options still, such as Craft 31’s Salted Caramel cocktail: vanilla ice cream, malt, Jameson, butterscotch schnapps, sea salt, caramel sauce, whipped cream and a candied bacon straw to top it off.

Want to go?

Culture Cafe is located at 747 Scotland St. La Tienda is located at 1325 Jamestown Road. Craft 31 is located at 3701 Strawberry Plains Road.

Try this at home

Mermaid Lemonade might be worth a try. Combine 2 cups of ice, ¼ cup Blue Curacao, 1 cup white rum and 2 cups of lemonade. Top it off with lemon slices, Maraschino cherries and paper umbrellas for garnish. Serves four.

Birkenmeyer can be reached by email at, by phone at 757-790-3029 or on Twitter @sethbirkenmeyer.

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