What makes a drink a summer drink? It depends who you ask, but here at the Current we’re pretty much agreed that the fruits of the season should make some kind of an appearance, either as a bit player or in the lead role. Beyond that, libations for the warmer months should—obviously—refresh, restore and otherwise lighten your load.
We visited a trio of campus bars to find out what was on tap, and on the cocktail list, for summer. In the course of our research, we found fresh, bracing brews, tangy specialty drinks, and a few fruity concoctions that left us begging for water, bread, grain alcohol, anything to cleanse our palettes of all that sticky, cloying sugar!
36th & Lancaster Ave., 215-895-0139
Though it’s been here for more than a decade, this upscale Powelton Village Mexican still feels fresh and new. You’ll find the slender bar well stocked with tequilas of all stripes, from traditional Cuervo to full bodied Patron. It’s what they do with their tequilas that piques our interest, though. In an oversized glass bowl on the bar, oranges, apples and other seasonal fruits gently macerate in tequila and sugar, creating the base—along with white wine and seltzer—for a light, refreshing sangria. Even more inspired is Zocalo’s Pablotini, which blends gold tequila, orange liqueur, Rose’s lime juice, fresh lime zest and a scorching hot orange habenero chili. OK, so it won’t cool you down, but sometimes in this world you just have to fight fire with fire.
Mad 4 Mex
3501 Walnut St. (behind The Shoppes at Penn), 215-382-2221
If you’re craving something grown-up, your best bet at this dark student hangout is a straightforward glass of Sam Adams Summer Ale or Troegs Sunshine Ale. The hard liquor drinks with a summery edge—from the mojito to the Twisted Piñata, loaded with coconut and Myers dark rum poured over ice in a pint glass—are as sweet as candy. But even though the margaritas are slightly embarrassing to order (try saying you’ll have the “Little Butt,” margarita with a straight face), they’re agreeably tart—“like a key lime pie” according to one drinker. At 12, 16 or 22 ounces, they’re also a sizeable happy hour treat.
White Dog Café
3420 Sansom St., 215-386-9224
A good summer beer should be, above all, light and refreshing—something that can simply satisfy a healthy thirst when the heat sets in. With an ever-changing selection of beers on tap, including seasonal selections, White Dog Café is a safe bet for those seeking just that kind of beer. Recently, we enjoyed two White Dog selections from the Stoudt’s brewery in nearby Adamstown, Pa. The Stoudt’s Pils was precisely what a true pilsner should be—crisp, slightly bitter, dry and flavorful. The Stoudt’s Weizen, meanwhile, was an experience all its own. With hints of cloves, banana, bubble-gum and lemon, this beer boasts a taste you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. And like other traditional Bavarian-style wheat beers, the Weizen is brewed especially for the hot summer months.
Originally published on May 12, 2005