On sunny days, parks, gardens, marinas, and every spot in which one can sit and enjoy the warming kiss of the sun become natural party venues, but as we don’t live on light alone, food and drink are generally part of the occasion. One of the simplest yet more comforting and pleasant ways to indulge in summer treats and sips are picnics and just as there are a few points to consider when choosing the best dishes for your day out (easy to carry, to serve an to eat), there are also a few elements to take into account regarding the best picnic drinks:
If you happen to be the type of person that has the slightest record of forgetting small items, go for screw cap bottles or sparkling wine (or prepare to be persona non grata after your guests realise you forgot the corkscrew!).
Another important factor for winning at picnic drinks is to be able to ensure you’ll be serving your beverages at the right temperature. A wine ice bag can only last chilled for so long so, if your ideal spot calls for a long walk, perhaps a drink that works at room temperature is best.
If you’re OK with carrying ice, make sure to separate the one in contact with the bottles and the one that you will put into the drinks.
When mixing drinks, avoid those that are overly sweet, complex or which need sticky ingredients or messy steps. Two or three ingredient cocktails are ideal, specially those refreshing and light. If you want to add fruits, fresh herbs or any other garnish, it’s best if you bring them already washed and prepared from home.
With this in mind, here are five of the best picnic drinks to share on a lovely day out.
This Spanish sparkler is sharp and utterly refreshing. Made with the same method of Champagne, it’s elegant, complex and different, but thanks to its lower profile, you can find fabulous Cavas at great value.
Blanc de Blancs Anna de Cordorníu
12% ABV – Spain
€24 – Available at On the Grapevine in Dalkey
This innovative Cava was the first to feature Chardonnay in its coupage. With 70% Chardo plus local grapes Xarel·lo, Macabeo and Parellada to complete the blend, it offers a bubbly of global appeal with a Spanish accent. Green apples, key lime pie and grapefruit are its high notes.
High in acidity and mouth-watering, it’s a gorgeous Cava to serve as an aperitif or with white meats.
While hardcore lovers of Rosé vouch for the style’s drinkability through the whole year, let’s be real for a second: summer time is when it reaches peak popularity and when thirsty masses embrace the pink before moving to winter warmers. Whether you’re a seasonal sipper or a loyal rosé warrior, we can all agree on the fact that having a bright and cheerful blush under the sunshine is just picnic goals.
13.5% – Provence, Fance
€16.95 (buy 1 get 1 half price) – Available at O’Briens Wine
This pale and light bodied rosé is simply bottled summer. Bright and refreshing, it offers aromas of crisp raspberries, pink grapefruits and juicy redcurrants. It is made from 60% Syrah, 35% Grenache and 5% Cinsault, and a short maceration followed by temperature controlled fermentation were chosen to ensure its lightness and delicate character.
Gorgeous with salads, shrimp or sushi (here’s an idea: pack a colourful bento box for two and take this wine with you for instant picnic glory).
For the ultimate Irish summer sipping experience, a bottle of strawberry wine is just ideal. While fruit wines tend to be overly sweet and unrefined, there are exceptions, and the family behind Wicklow Way Wines is bottling a sophisticated example that has reached the shelves of gourmet shops and high-end restaurants. Read their story on TheTaste.ie
Móinéir Fine Strawberry Wine
11% ABV – Wicklow, Ireland
€19.95 – Available at Mitchel & Son, Blackrock Cellar and more
Strawberry blond coloured, this wine is made with sustainably sourced Irish strawberries. It’s light bodied and mouth-watering, with concentrated flavours of juicy, ripe strawberries (approximately 150 small ones go into every bottle!).
It’s better chilled or on the rocks and it goes surprisingly well with rich salmon dishes, bacon quiche and Asian food. For an Irish food lovers’ picnic, bring it along a tasty sharing board of Irish cheeses!
A spritzer is simply a mixed drink made with a combination of sparkling water or soda, plus wine and/or liquor and ice. The most basic example would be the combo of white wine+ice+sparkling water, but you can get creative and serve fabulous fizzy beverages that taste great, with recipes that are pretty much fool-proof. Looking for extra bubbles? Use sparkling wine!
This classic Italian aperitif has passed the taste of time and it immediately adds a continental feeling to your afternoon. To make it, simply fill a glass with ice and mix 3 parts of Prosecco, 2 parts of Aperol and 1 part of soda. Garnish with an orange wedge.
For an extra bubbly spritz, go for Prosecco Spumante instead of Frizzante as the first one is fizzier (for example, Rizzardi Prosecco, €17.95 on offer from €20.95 from O’Briens Wine). Aperol is priced from €18.99 and it’s available at drinkstore.ie, Mitchell & Son, Baggot Street Wines and other specialised off-licences.
Picnic tip: Make sure to leave all the ingredients chilling a few hours before leaving the house or overnight, the ice will dilute more slowly!
Some cocktails have to be done on the spot, but with a little bit of tweaking, certain drinks can be prepared in advance and simply transported to an event. Avoid cocktails with an sparkling element as it will loose its fizz, as well as those with muddled herbs or fruits or any ingredient that deteriorates quickly (such as fresh apple slices).
Pre mixed Margaritas
Turn your picnic into a fiesta with this boozy batch cocktail. To make it, mix a 2 parts of clear Tequila (El Jimador Blanco works well, €35 from O’Briens Wine), with one part of fresh lime juice and one of Cointreau. Sweeten with agave syrup to taste.
Let the flavours integrate overnight and chill in the fridge. You can bring slices of citrus fruit (cut at home!) and crushed sea salt to rim the glasses (in a flat container that can fit the border of the glass to avoid making a salty mess!).
Picnic tip: You can make your Margarita batch low in alcohol and let your guests adjust the spirit to taste.
Gabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.
Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.