The best summer beverages for your budget
In Toronto, there’s something about the warmer months that makes everyone enter into a bit of a booze-induced haze. Park picnics, island day-trips and lazy backyard dinner parties are infinitely improved by a refreshing beverage (or three). Of course, all the frequent revelry means it’s crucial to be smart about picking value-filled choices. Here, we’ve rounded up the best summer beverages for every situation. They’re all incredibly cool, crisp, and, most importantly, wallet-friendly.
1. The chic dinner party choice: Cavit Collection’s pinot grigio. Italian wine is all the rage these days, and for good reason: there’s something about the blends that manage to harness that idyllic Italian way of life—like sharing long lunches on terraces and leisurely evenings with great friends (and great wine). Cavit’s winery is based in the hills of Northern Italy, in Trentino, where the picturesque landscape is punctuated with medieval castles, mountainous ranges and apple orchards. Out there, a dry breeze that comes from the nearby Lake Garda protects the vineyards from moisture and disease, and cool evenings produce intense flavours and aromas in the grapes. Their pinot grigio is particularly ideal for any al fresco dining situation this summer. It’s incredibly light and sophisticated, with a pale straw flavour, lemon-apple aroma and clean finish that goes perfectly with dishes like California salad and salmon, or barbequed eggplant. And, best of all, your pals will never guess that it’s only $13.20. It’s available at all LCBO stores and also online at LCBO.com.
2. The ultimate host gift: Dillon’s gin. Let’s face it: summer season usually coincides with tons of cottage invites. Instead of showing up empty handed, we recommend bringing one of Dillon’s more unique flavours of gin. The small-batch distillery is located in the Niagara region, and uses natural ingredients infused with fine botanicals to create spirits with distinct flavour. For a host gift, their rose gin and strawberry gin are guaranteed to be a hit. Slightly more playful than both the dry and unfiltered blends (both of which are also delicious), these subtle flavours will make those dockside cocktails even more special. The rose gin is infused with rose hips and rose petals, and can be easily imbibed on ice with a lime. The strawberry gin is infused with fresh local strawberries and botanicals, and makes an excellent aperitif. Both bottles are available at the LCBO for $25.
3. The cocktail in a can: Georgian Bay’s Vodka Smash. Georgian Bay’s Gin Smash has been a summer hit since it hit the cooler scene a few years ago. The Vodka Smash just launched last year, and is a dream for vodka devotees. The beverage uses the brand’s signature vodka—which is made with super-pure spring water from Elmvale, Ontario, and has won numerous awards, including “Best Vodka” at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition—and blends it with natural lemon, lime, grapefruit and mint. The result is an insanely refreshing, and very portable, cocktail that’s a must-have for any day trip. The tall cans are only $2.95 at the LCBO, and at 5 per cent alcohol, you only need one or two to get a buzz.
4. The perfect patio choice: Brickworks Ciderhouse’s Batch: 1904. With so many new cider houses popping up around the city, the beverage is quickly becoming the number one patio pick. At Leslieville’s massive new Brickworks Ciderhouse, there are nearly 40 different kinds of cider to choose from. But the brand’s first-ever brew, Batch: 1904, is still the quintessential dry, citrusy cider that makes soaking up those patio rays extra enjoyable. It’s crafted in Toronto using fresh heritage apples grown in Georgian Bay and the Niagara region—giving it hints of sweet apple pie flavouring. You can, of course, find it at the ciderhouse, but also at the LCBO, where you can snap up singles for $3.30 to enjoy on your very own backyard patio or front porch.
5. The park-approved hipster beer: Bellwoods Brewery’s Jelly King. Toronto’s craft beer scene has been booming for quite some time now, and the reigning west-end king for hot summer days where all you want to do is lounge in the park is still Bellwoods Brewery. The lineup this year features classic favourites like Witch Shark and Wizard Wolf, but your best bet for an ultra-refreshing treat is Jelly King. It’s got citra hops and a hint of bacteria for a juicy, sour and thirst-quenching brew that tastes a bit like fuzzy peaches and tangerine—i.e. the perfect complement for lazing on a picnic blanket in the sun with hundreds of new pals. You can buy it in large bottles at the Ossington bottle shop.