Drinking by the Seasons

Some people are shocked to learn that drink preferences change over the course of the year, just as the seasons do. The weather often dictates what’s appealing and, as food trends are catering to the seasons more today than any time in the last 100 years, drink trends are doing the same.

A flame-kissed Mexican Coffee is ideal on a snow-capped mountain by the fireside but a broiling-hot afternoon during a long Texas summer calls for something icy, like a frozen Margarita or a cocktail called Drought.

Chilled white wines are more popular during warmer months than red wines served at room temperature. Lighter beers, such as pilsners, lagers, and ales, go down easier when the weather is warm than heavier bocks, porters, and stouts.

Summertime drinks are best served very well chilled or over ice. More often than not, the hard liquor of preference is a clear one, such as vodka, gin, rum, or tequila. One of the most popular highballs, the gin and tonic, became the salvation of many a British colonist in sweltering 19th-century India. The gin reminded them of home, the quinine water (or tonic water, as we call it today) eased malarial symptoms brought on by the mosquitoes following summer monsoons, and a squeeze of lime kept the scurvy at bay. Refreshment and medicine all in one tall, invigorating, ice-filled glass – British ingenuity at its most delicious.

As the seasons change and the air takes on a chill, icy drinks lose their appeal. Hot chocolate drinks, like the Peppermint Patty, become more popular, especially on nippy nights. Spicy drinks, like Hot Buttered Rum, Toddies, and those made from apple ciders and brandies set the pace for the foods of the season. The trend moves away from clear liquors to the darker ones – dark rums, bourbon, whiskey, brandy.

It becomes easy to see how drinking by the seasons means fewer iced beverages during the ravages of winter. This is when whiskies and brandies are most often enjoyed neat, without ice or chilling. Liqueurs, best served at room temperature, are more popular in the darker, colder months, too. Heated punches, like Wassail, Egg Nog, and mulled wines, hit the spot and make the entire home smell warm and cozy. Coffee-based beverages are most popular during wintertime, too, especially when served hot.

As the seasons change once again and days grow warmer and brighter, drink choices become lighter, too. Cool drinks flavored with the emerging fruits of the season influence many drink choices. Lemonade spiked with vodka and garnished with fresh berries makes a special treat at Easter time. Light, carbonated cocktails, such as Tom Collins and gin fizzes, gain in popularity at this time and that old reliable gin and tonic regains its seasonal following.

Some people are going to drink the same thing all year round. It’s what they like and there’s no reason to deviate. Other people enjoy a fuller spectrum of what the spirits world has to offer and drinking by the seasons is a great way to indulge in them all.