Summer cocktail lists may be full of fruit and flowers, but when the heat really gets up there, I’m less interested in something that showcases the brilliant market season, and much more inclined towards drinks that are dry, bitter, and refreshing. In previous years this has meant my drink of choice is a pink gin and tonic (gin, tonic, and a healthy dose of Angostura bitters), but this summer I’ve given myself over to something even more ideal: equal parts white vermouth and soda water stirred together over ice. Maybe a hulled strawberry or a wedge of plum thrown in as garnish, maybe not.
I had my first of these cocktails this summer at Philadelphia’s elegant new restaurant Rittenhouse Tavern, where I realized just how perfect Dolin Blanc is in what is basically a vermouth spritzer: delicate, botanical, honey-tinged but notably dry, its combination with sparkling water lets the aromatics blossom and highlights a bitter finishing note. In a way, this effortless two-ingredient cocktail is a pink gin and tonic’s very distant cousin: more laid-back, more refined, significantly less sweet. It’s perfect for sunny, sleepy afternoons: simple to throw together, and low enough in alcohol content that I can down two or three from thirst without sending myself spinning off towards oblivion.