Splendor in the Glass
An examination of favorite spring tonics. Plus, Cantwell’s Tavern helps an Odessa landmark return to its roots, and check out a Giant Pit Stop at Dover International Speedway.
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Our genes tell us we must pack a picnic and cheer on the horses at Winterthur or find a quiet meadow along the Brandywine or go to the beach. And we need something refreshing to drink—our picnic basket case of beer, chilled wines, pre-mixed cocktails.
Most caterers and beverage shop owners we consulted urged us to curb our enthusiasm, to keep our drink—like our food—simple. That means clear plastic or inexpensive glass barware, pre-mixed drinks with sane levels of alcohol, and minimal mixers and garnishes.
“I love drinks with bubbles in them—Prosecco, Moscato, Champagne,” says Susan Teiser of Montrachet Fine Foods in Centreville. And though we shouldn’t muck up expensive Champagne, Teiser adds flair to less-expensive sparklers with fresh strawberries or shots of liquid fruit and flowers.
“Add a splash of St. Germain elderflower liqueur to sparkling wine for a nice touch of spring,” says Frank Pagliaro of Frank’s Union Wine Mart in Wilmington. “It’s Longwood Gardens in a flute.” Linda Collier of Collier’s of Centreville likes mixing the traditional cassis-flavored Kier with a kick of Malibu rum. Pomegranate liqueur is a favorite addition for Teiser.
Complex wines are wasted in the informality of alfresco dining, so try crisp but floral whites—Collier argues for Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Vinho Verde—and for lighter, spicy reds such as Beaujolais or red Cotes-du-Rhone. Ryan German, who caters at his Caffé Gelato in Newark, likes the picnic versatility of a Bouchaine Pinot Noir.
For mixed drinks, Pagliaro finds basic red sangria as essential as little black dresses for French women. Just marinate fresh fruits in leftover 2010 Beaujolais nouveau and Cointreau, he says. “Mojitos also always get me going in springtime, and I add spice with Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur.”
Teiser has a simpler idea that serves everyone, even designated drivers and kids: Add a lime to lemonade or cranberry juice for those who don’t drink, and for those who never touch virgin fruit juices, add vodka or gin on the spot.
I sometimes think of beer as I do sparkling wines—both have bubbles. Yet beer, with its heavier flavors, is less flexible. Mix a light one, such as Michelob Ultra, with lemonade or ginger ale for a Brit-style shandy. Pagliaro recommends bartending in a bottle. “Corona, Aruba-style,” he says. “Take a swig, add a shot of Bacardi Limon to the bottle, and insert a lime slice.”
Rebecca Mais owns McCabe’s Gourmet Market in Bethany Beach, where many beachgoers stock up—but not on alcoholic drinks. “People love to buy fancy French lemonade with a cork,” she says, “and Martinelli’s non-alcoholic sparkling cider.”
Page 2: A Giant Pit Stop | A temporary supermarket at Dover International Speedway makes life easier for campers, who can motor on in for just about anything.