Everyone knows that baseball is America’s favorite pastime. It conjures up thoughts of summer for us in much the same way as cold beer, lemonade, blueberry pie, and strawberry jam do. For me, just the sound of a baseball game on television makes me think of summers in the house I grew up in with my parents. It was a house with no air conditioning, and summers in New Jersey could get hot and humid with many days in the nineties, but after the first heat wave we’d get used to it. We’d sleep at night with a fan in one window of our bedrooms facing out, so that you could think that there was some kind of a breeze blowing through the other window. As long as the curtains were moving it felt cooler. And since we were Italian-Americans, we had what was known as a “basement kitchen” in addition to our regular kitchen, and on the hottest nights we’d cook and eat our dinner there. This may sound a bit strange, but those of you who share my heritage know exactly what I’m talking about. We didn’t have a swimming pool, so I’d turn on a lawn sprinkler and my friends and I would spend our afternoons running through it to cool off, and then lounging under the glorious maple tree that shaded the entire back yard until we were called for dinner. One of the best features of my parents’ house was a screened-in porch that adjoined the living room. My dad would shower and shave after dinner, put on his pristine white t-shirt, and sit on on the porch on summer nights and watch the Philadelphia Phillies play baseball on television. My mom and I would also sit there with him and talk while he watched the game. Both my parents are gone now and that childhood home is just a memory, but if there’s a game on TV and I close my eyes for a moment those summer nights come back to me so vividly that I feel as though I’m still there. It’s sad and sweet at the same time.
For today’s cocktail, I tried to choose ingredients that would unequivocally make me think of summers here in New Jersey. That had to include strawberries, blueberries, and lemon juice, for sure, and I went with Bluecoat gin as a base spirit since it’s distilled locally here in Philadelphia. I added some simple syrup for sweetness, and I topped the cocktail off with a beer from Sam Adams called Porch Rocker, both because of its flavor and its name, and memories of my mom and our many conversations. My dad would say “this drink sounds nice but I’ll just take the beer.” How happy I’d be to be able to take one out of the fridge, open it up, and hand it over to him.
Muddle 2 strawberries and 8 blueberries in a cocktail shaker with the simple syrup. Add everything else except the beer along with ice and shake until very cold. Strain into a cocktail glass or a mini pilsner glass and top with beer. Garnish with more berries. Cheers!
*For added color and berry flavor I also added ¼ oz of Plymouth Sloe gin, but this is totally optional.