Wednesday, July 3, 2013


What Goes With Your Summer Ennui?

Most magazines would have you believe summer is all Fourth of July parties with themed desserts that turn out perfectly and fabulous beach vacations. But what about the rest of us?

“One word: Plastics!”

You’ve just graduated, and it seems like everyone you know is off to travel through Europe for the summer, or do an internship at some crazy tech startup that makes you wish you’d paid more attention to math in high school instead of obsessively reading every letter F. Scott Fitzgerald ever wrote to anyone, and all you’ve got is an apartment with no air conditioning and the worst ventilation ever, and a terrible temp job at your old university. Being on campus is depressing and empty now. When you climb up to your apartment in the evenings, it's so hot and airless it threatens to suffocate you, so you have to strip down to your underwear and periodically stick your head in the freezer to cool off, both from the heat and from crying on the phone to whoever will listen about where you could have gone wrong in life, and why didn’t your ex-girlfriend love you, and good god, Starbucks wouldn’t even hire you—Starbucks!

Historically, your solution to these feelings has been frozen Cosmopolitans, sometimes with a shot of Chambord pooling stickily at the bottom, but you know what would be better? A nice off-dry rose from the Anjou region of France’s Loire Valley. Still cheap, still sweet-tart and pink, but you’ll hate yourself a little less in the morning when it’s time to go back to answering the phone and trying to decipher the mysterious color coding your boss uses in his emails.

Coney Island

It seemed like a good idea, like it might be romantic—hot dogs, riding the Ferris wheel. But the subway was full of annoying, loud teenagers, and the lines were way longer than you expected, and everything felt grimy. The fries at the hot dog stand weren’t even any good, but you ate them anyway, standing up, staring into the dark, dirty beach and the timid little waves crashing against it. You did finally get to the Ferris wheel, and honest to goodness, fireworks started going off just as you reached the top. You held hands and kissed, and there was a slight, merciful breeze, and for a moment, maybe it was romantic.

When you get home, drink a cheap little Ventoux, a rustic red from a minor sub-region in the southern Cotes du Rhone. It’s been in the fridge all day, but that gives it a sort of pleasant, fruit punch kind of feel. Drink it out of a juice glass, just to complete the experience, and because the wine glasses are dirty. You don’t want to see the pictures he took, even the ones he thinks are cute. You just want the spot in the bed closest to the air conditioner.

“Greetings from Fiji!”

Your friends are visiting somewhere exotic, and you’re watering their plants and walking their dogs. Raid their liquor cabinet and make yourself a gin and tonic. Gin has a cooling, sort of antiseptic feel, making it the perfect summer spirit. But this isn’t just any gin and tonic. This one has a little more panache, is a little fussier.* The maceration seems like a pain, but it’s a total game changer. Besides, what else do you have to do?

Once your drink is in the fanciest glass you can find, put on some reruns of Coupling, and sit with every pet in the house piled around you in a big, hairy mountain of animal love, and feel a little less lonely for awhile. You may not be having your own personal Eat, Pray, Love experience (Christ, why would you want to, actually?), but this is pretty goddamn good for now.

Road trip

How did you decide driving cross-country with your mother was a good idea? A few days in and you’re already out of outfits. Hours of sitting and eating Triscuits for dinner has left your already ill-fitting khakis from Old Navy’s clearance rack sagging unattractively around your hips. Your mother takes your photo anyway, as you squint into the sun while pumping gas somewhere near Toledo. She also takes photos of the plastic ice cream cone at the Dairy Queen you stopped at outside Elko, Nevada, lending it an unexpected gravitas. But now you’ve arrived at your final destination: Napa Valley, California. Tomorrow she’ll fly home and you’ll start school, and your life will change, hopefully. But for now, it’s just another hotel room, and you’re each stretched out on another bed with another tacky comforter, one of the ones made from artificial fibers that feels almost slick, like you might slide off if you move too fast. You both have your feet stacked on top of each other at the ankles in exactly the same way.

You’ve stopped at a vaguely Italian-themed grocery store and bought bread, cheese, salami, and olives, which you’ve just learned to like, along with a bottle of “old vines” Zinfandel (apparently there isn’t any other kind...). The wine, in retrospect, isn’t very good, especially drunk out of plastic cups from the hotel room. You’re watching the awful Sex And The City movie that has been showing on TBS or one of those channels several nights in a row now. You both laugh at how stupid it is. You’re terrified and happy and you can feel tears starting to poke at the corners of your eyes and sting your nose, and for a moment you think of reaching over and hugging her as tight as you can, telling her how much you love her, telling her thank you, but you realize it’s probably just the wine and the damned movie: pruney, overripe, tacky, perfect.

*Special thanks to Daryl Cross for all the times he made this for me.

Previously: What Goes With Your High School Reading List?

Photo via chartno3/flickr.

Diane McMartin is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers and a graduate of a fancy-pants wine and beverage education program in St. Helena, CA. This required many flashcards and a lot of coffee. She lives in the Washington, DC area, where she works in retail teaching wine education classes, helping customers find the perfect wine, and wading through the seemingly endless ocean of bad Chardonnay out there. 

53 Comments / Post A Comment


What to drink when it's summer but it simply won't stop raining? And the thought of doing anything in the nation's capital for the 4th of July is just exhausting - the metro is clogged with tourists and everyone is just thrilled with how! much! fun! they are having? And you think it would be delightful or at least bearable to just watch the neighborhood fireworks from your house, but are afraid to say it because you don't want to seem like a bore? What do you drink then?


@franceschances You drink whatever the hell is already in the house because fuck dealing with that mess and the people who stand left and block metro doors and bring double strollers everywhere even though they have one walking child, AM I RIGHT. Or you go to Weygandt Wine in Cleveland Park cause they have 10-25% off roses tomorrow.


@franceschances Warm Natty Boh obviously. King of stoop beers.

phlox lombardi

@robotosaur WHY does everyone of said tourists have to snicker when we get to the Foggy Bottom stop? WHY?!


@phlox lombardi Probably because they don't know that, according to L'Enfant's original plan, the neighborhood was supposed to be called "Gassy Butthole"


@robotosaur That would be lovely if Cleveland Park weren't too far. "Too far" meaning not on my same metro line. Good call on the rose, though!


@franceschances ~Oh,Unbelievable~~ My best friend Elena has just married to a cool black man. They fall in love through~~IntërracialFìshes. ℂoм ~This is a Specialized Online Interracial Dating Services. For black women meet white men, black men dating white women. Meet interracial singles living in your local area or in countries around the world. .)If you are single, try a try.REYERY

jaimebee tho

Coney Island is so disgusting, but that has always been part of its grimy magic for me. You knocked this out of the park, as always - thank you for these!

phlox lombardi

@jaimebee tho Thank you for reading! Next time it'll be more about wine, and less about me ;)


@phlox lombardi I really, really enjoy these. I like that you get into the emotions that we've all had, or known we could have, and it sort of makes me feel like we're all in this together even though we're all experiencing it separately. In other words, it's less about the wine and more about enjoying the shared experience. :)


I was enjoying this and wishing I was drinking a G&T right now and then I got to the last one and now I'm trying not to cry into my keyboard because it was my mom's birthday yesterday and I haven't seen her since Easter. THANKS, DIANE.

phlox lombardi

@anachronistique My mother is, annoyingly, right about almost everything important, like what underwear is the most comfortable and whether or not I should sell everything I own and move across the country to go to wine school. I hope you get to see yours soon!


Diane is great!

Princess Slayer

@anachronistique God, I know, I just want to hug my mom right now. MOOOOMMMMM.


love love love this@y


That is a ridiculous way of making a g&t.


@timesnewroman It is. And clearly, he should be using Hendrick's. There is no other gin.

phlox lombardi

@spoondisaster I love Hendricks, but feel that it really shines with soda and a slice of cucumber. Every (good) gin has its place. I like Bluecoat, which many think is too citrusy and mainstream, for example, but I like it best in a gimlet.

phlox lombardi

I thought so, too, until I tried it! It really is good made this way.


@phlox lombardi It does sound delicious, and I would certainly enjoy the hell out of it if someone else made it for me, but I always thought that part of the beauty of the G&T is how little energy it requires of the maker.
Though one could make the full amount of the linked recipe and then have a pitcher of G&T to feed off of for an afternoon, which would make that extra effort worthwhile.


What goes well with a long weekend wishing one was somewhere else, wherein almost all of one's friends are out of town, while also nursing a painfully adorable crush on an acquaintance (your first crush on anyone in eight years!) that makes you suddenly feel like you're in middle school again (do you like me? check yes or no! eeeee!)

phlox lombardi

@TheMnemosyne A really young Dolcetto would capture that sense of exuberance and longing perfectly. Also, good with pizza if that is relevant to you.


@phlox lombardi There will probably be a lot of pizza because 1) Drinking and 2) Alone.

Faintly Macabre

@TheMnemosyne Oh, hello, twin. (Almost creepily so, but also comforting!) I'm planning to spend tomorrow with my dog, ice cream, and many gin and tonics.


I am grumpy this morning but I am also so sick of 2nd person.


@beezus. You are?


@stuffisthings Your grumpy mood is interrupted, albeit briefly, by a clever reply to your hasty Hairpin comment.

Emma Carmichael

@beezus. Find what: "you" Replace with: "U"

phlox lombardi

@beezus. It's a little precious and overwrought, I'll admit.


@phlox lombardi I thought you did it well! I've tried to write in 2nd before and it came out so awful I had to change it back to first.

Also, what can I pour a slug of into my lovely Simply Limeade (almost homemade tasting, very tart and sweet) to make it boozy? I'm thinking vodka because it's more or less tasteless, but that seems... unimaginative.


They don't even know about the joys of writing in third person plural. The fools.

phlox lombardi

@iceberg Chartreuse (yellow or green, depending on how herbal/strong you want it) or elderflower liqueur.


@phlox lombardi ooh thank you! Perhaps I shall have to hunt down this St. Germain everyone's always banging on about.

phlox lombardi

@iceberg It got a little overplayed, but I think it's good with citrus flavors, and with sparkling wine.


@phlox lombardi But the bottle is so pretty, and I like the idea of drinking booze made from delicate flowers.

phlox lombardi

@iceberg The bottle is gorgeous, isn't it? I want to be one of those people with a well-stocked bar and a real wine collection, but all I have is a wine rack from Ikea that as of today contains a cheap bottle of Italian white, an even cheaper South African rose, a bottle of homemade vanilla vodka that's 2/3s empty, and a bottle of Buffalo Trace with about an inch left in the bottle.

Someday when I'm a bajillionaire with really great skin I'll throw parties like the ones in Gourmet where everyone drinks fancy cocktails out of Depression-era vintage juice glasses and eats heritage pork, and we'll throw our heads back and laugh and laugh...


@phlox lombardi It's a fine thing to have on hand if you've got a tendency to buy cheap (and often cheap-tasting) sparkling wine.


@phlox lombardi

aaah, thank you for the tips about what to do with St. Germaine, and the justification for still drinking it! It always makes me nostalgic because I grew up in a Central European place where there were many elderflower bushes and people would make home-made elderflower jams and teas and liquors, plus the smell would just be in the air in certain seasons, so it brings me many memories, but if I admit a liking for it out loud anymore nowadays on the East Coast people are so raking. E.g. someone recently told me liking it was "so 2002." Which is a pretty short timespan for considering life/liquors!

Mohawk Chick

What pairs with the summer where the last hope of being a late-blooming adolescent prodigy is past, but you are yet too young to have any meaningful accomplishments. A summer spent with no trips, just endless days spent shuffling back and forth from your shitty un-air-conditioned warehouse job and your shitty un-air-conditioned bachelor apartment, the only moderately stimulating events being your twice-weekly anarchist meetings at an un-air-conditioned vegan collective, your once-monthly mushroom trip, and arguments with the cops over your right to go topless in public spaces. Also, there are occasional adrenaline-infused nights where you return home from wheatpasting political graffiti on government buildings, only to realize that you forgot to remove the drugs from your backpack before committing vandalism. I'm thinking gin and ginger-ale out of a re-purposed Ragu jar?

phlox lombardi

@Mohawk Chick Vin Jaune. Obscure, defiantly funky tasting, good with mushrooms.

Tragically Ludicrous

But what if you're not a young person in New York City?

RK Fire

Is anyone still here? What goes well with when you feel the following:

-your entire life you've been told you're smart and that you can change the world and yet you've been working at your nonprofit job for years and you just feel like a political square while other people are changing the face of your home city and are getting lauded as "the best of X under 40." The only differences between you and them is that you are lazy, overthink, and can't unsee problems while they are idealistic, not-lazy, and their concerns about their own privilege vis a vis neighborhood change or temporary lack of financial security doesn't seem to paralyze them? Also you hate your job, and despite what everyone tells you about being smart and having a cool job, no one seems to want to hire you.

-your friends from your early 20s, and it seems, everyone, gets to travel the world but you haven't been able to since your husband was unemployed for about a year (not for lack of trying on his part). He has recently secured a good position but the fiscal conservatism you've developed over the past two years means that you are both trying to take the money he makes and put it directly into your savings in order to have an emergency fund again.


@RK Fire Four to six Stroh + whiskey combos at Red Derby usually works for me.

RK Fire

@stuffisthings Ha, thanks. :) Btw, I wanted to mention this earlier to you (and to other Pinners who are or have significant others looking for work) to keep your head up.. not sure if you were looking advice though. The above comment was really cathartic to write and two days ago, I wasn't sure if I could go and write more equally cathartic comments about spending days and weeks balancing hope and optimism while allowing yourself to acknowledge and feel frustration and despair.

And then I got wasted yesterday and woke up today at noon, so that was nice.

Chareth Cutestory

I just read this and was thinking how much I would like a nice cold G&T, and then my cat jumped onto my keyboard and typed the letters "GT" into my address bar.

Pretty certain it is a sign that I need to go make myself a gin and tonic right this minute.

lucy snowe

This weekend I put my GandT in an aluminum cup into the freezer so I could take a nap. When I awoke it had transformed into a delightful gin slushy, which I've decided is my current optimal drink.

phlox lombardi

@lucy snowe That is amazing and I want to drink these all summer now.

lucy snowe

Woot! I'm making some as I type. Happy Fourth!


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