Summer eventually gets old. Even here, where it starts too late and ends too soon and burns too hot in between. Even here, the day may come when the invitation to sip cold drinks under an umbrella on a terrace staring at a handful of sturdy skyscrapers will lose its attraction and you may decide to spend the afternoon shopping for sweaters and plaids instead. Yes, come the dog days, even here.
That’s when, as they say, you’ve lost that summer-lovin’ feeling, and you need a little something to jerk you back to the full attention that the last hot blast of August deserves.
May I suggest a lemonade?
In the early, optimistic days of June and July, just about anything tastes summery and cool. That is the only explanation I can think of for those powder- and syrup-based drinks served everywhere in half-gallon frosted plastic cups. That concoction may have had a lemon somewhere back in its heritage, but the family resemblance is long gone.
No, to remind yourself of the last full joys of summer, you need the real deal: pulpy, pale yellow, with actual lemons not only in evidence, but right there in the glass in front of you. And almost – almost – gritty with sugar, real sugar stirred in right in the kitchen.
Zumbro makes the real deal — slippery sweet and perfectly sour ($2.50). And you can sip it under a canopy of late-summer sunflowers.
At Chambers, you can get that real deal taken one step further: steeped with thyme, with a jaunty sprig in the glass, and a faint hint of carbonation ($4.50). That glass is dainty compared to its vulgar, gargantuan terrace-sipping cousin, but it packs a summer’s worth of flavor.
Carbonation also perks up the Mikolina ($3) at Café Maude. Southwest’s newest, hottest hotspot hits all four areas of the tongue with sugar, lemon, bitters, and ever-so-faintly salty soda.
If lemons won’t do it, you need limes. Limes with ginger under a Caribbean blue umbrella at Masa. You have the option of ordering your limeade without the ginger, and perhaps even saving a few cents, but resist. Without the heat of ginger, the sweetness overpowers the sour lime and you’re left with a glass of late-summer regret. With the ginger, it’s a hot-sour-sweet glass of now-I-remember-why-I-love-summer-in-this-city-this-one-right-here-more-than-any-other. Definitely get the ginger ($2.95).
And, while you’re at it, pick up your phone and call your friend who’s shopping the early fall sales and tell him to join you on the terrace under the umbrella. Pronto. Summer is slipping away.