There is nothing ambiguous about thirst. Summer breeds it like heat and mosquitos. Busting that parched feeling is not something you want to entrust to a glass of water.
No, the best prescription is a great-tasting drink that's guaranteed to wash away both the thirst and the troubles of the day. When you find a drink like that, etch a recipe in the bar top and make it the specialty of the house.
One option is to take a few years off from the job and travel the globe searching for the most refreshing drinks on the planet. Another is to read on: We've done the legwork and discovered the four classiest thirst-busters ever devised.
Michelada. Virtually unknown outside the Hispanic community, the Michelada is a phenomenally refreshing concoction served in a tall iced glass with a salted rim. The recipe calls for a dose of fresh lime juice, a fill with a Mexican lager, and a lime wedge garnish. One variation calls for a shot of tequila, while another requires a splash of pepper sauce. It's hard to make a mistake concocting a Michelada. It's essentially a tall iced glass of beer with a salted rim and a splash of lime juice. It's simple, yet marvelous
Mojito. The Mojito has captured the American imagination and sparked a boom in restaurants around the country. The elegant and eminently refreshing drink originated in Cuba and is something of a cross between a Mint Julep and an Old Fashioned. It is made in a bucket or specialty glass. The recipe: simple syrup, fresh lime juice, lime rind and a slew of mint sprigs. Muddle the ingredients together in the glass, and finish with ice, 2-3 oz. of light rum and a splash of club soda for effervescence. The final touch is a garnish of fresh mint sprigs.
Sangria. Few libations are more satisfying than this punch made from a blend of red wine, fresh fruit and an assortment of spirits and liqueurs. Often served in a pitcher, Sangria is so delicious that it has evolved into a national treasure of Spain. This light, thirst-quenching classic is typically made with a moderately priced red wine. In addition, Sangria recipes often include brandy, peach schnapps, port or triple sec. Most seasonal fruits are excellent in Sangria. Citrus fruits such as limes, lemons and oranges are especially desirable because their acidity helps balance the punch and keeps the other fruit from discoloring. Fragrant fruit and berries, such as peaches, nectarines, blackberries and strawberries are popular additions. Letting the Sangria steep is advisable so that flavors of the wine, fruit and spirits have time to marry together. There isn't one definitive version of Sangria. It is a forgiving concoction, so have fun and experiment.
Caipirinha. This sensational Brazilian concoction is a refreshing and delicious break from the conventional. The Caipirinha (pronounced Kuyper-REEN-yah) is served in a bucket or tumbler and made with simple syrup and a quartered lime which is then strenuously muddled. The driving force behind this classic cocktail is cachaça, a clear Brazilian spirit produced from sugar cane. Use between 2 and 3 ounces of cachaça, add ice and garnish with a fresh lime wedge.
A cachaça of dubious quality is fiery in character, so it is advisable to stick with a wellaged cachaÁa. Aging tempers the spirit's natural exuberance, which better affords an opportunity to enjoy its brilliant range of flavors. If stocking a chacaça isn't in your future plans, the drink combination also works beautifully with a silver rum or tequila.
Robert Plotkin is past-president of the National Bar & Restaurant Association and the author of the 4th edition of The Bartender's Companion: The Original Guide to American Cocktails and Drinks.