Booze + Books for the best summer ever

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I just got back from vacation, and unlike previous years, where I’ve devoured upwards of five or more books, I read 50 whole pages of one book. Yeah, toddler parent probs, for sure.

You don’t have to be beach-bound to take some time to dive into a good read in the summer — and I’m hoping to make up for that time with some good evening and weekend reads with a nice glass of Grillo or Sauvignon Blanc.

We’re big fans of reading, and so we thought it was worth resurrecting this “Books + Booze” series for summer. Whether you’re in your favorite air-conditioned nook or slathered in sunscreen next to the pool, here are our summer reading picks (and the refreshing bevs to go along with them).

Thrillers + Chardonnay

Hope Frick, Contributor

There is nothing I love more than sitting outside (anywhere … the beach, the pool, a patio, a lawn, etc.) and reading. I could spend all day outside with my nose buried in a book. Don’t get me wrong, I love lighting candles and cozying up on the couch with a good book during the winter, but nothing beats sitting in the sun and reading. 

I’ve already devoured a few books this summer (check out The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy, The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda and The Trespasser by Tana French), all twisty-turny-thrillers that I almost couldn’t put down until I solved the whodunnit. Next on my list is The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena, which follows a couple after a crime is committed at a dinner party they attend at their neighbors. I’m so looking forward to diving into this!

I also came across author Elin Hilderbrand a few summers ago when I quickly grabbed Summerland from Target to take to the pool. Almost all of her novels are set in Nantucket, which is the quintessential summer setting and my new dream destination. Plus, every character has a really unique name, and I will literally read every new book just to see what names are in it. 

Now, the only thing better than reading outside is reading outside with a glass of Kendall Jackson Chardonnay. Besides a great book, it’s the perfect complement to any afternoon or evening on the porch.

My best friend Allison introduced me to it and it’s the only white wine I’ll drink, because nostalgia. It’s buttery and rich, yet still crisp and refreshing to beat the heat while I soak up the rays. Plus, pouring a glass of wine is so much easier than making another mixed drink.  I’ll leave the drama to the novels and just uncork and unwind, which is my favorite story.

Perspective + IPAs

Bree Whitelock, Event Assistant

I have Patsy on my summer list (thanks to theSkimm’s summer reading list) because it details an outlook on something so prevalent in the U.S. right now – taking the time to understand a perspective different than yours.

The book follows the life of an undocumented immigrant in the U.S. who left her family and daughter behind in pursuit of self-discovery.

I’m pairing this read with my newfound summer love – the Wyndridge Homestead IPA – because it can change anyone’s perspective on citrus IPAs or IPAs in general.

Rom-Com + Rosé

Lena Penn, Event Assistant

If I’m not reading a book or magazine about wine, I’ll grab something that’s a quick easy read. With a Summer schedule that tends to be jammed-packed, something light and fun is perfect to wind down with after a long week! 

One of the books on my Summer list is The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez. It’s kind of a romantic story but also a comedy about a woman who tries to keep a guy she’s into, as the title says, in the friend zone. A sweet & funny read that will make you both laugh and cry. Seems like the perfect book to read with rosé while getting some sun!

Currently, I can’t get enough of Vineyard View Winery’s Cabernet Franc Dry Rosé. It has strawberry notes with an off-dry finish and a gorgeous color that is totally post-worthy!

Another book on the list is City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of “Eat, Pray, Love”). I’ll admit, I was drawn to it because of the pretty cover art. Set in the 1940s New York City theater world, it’s full of glamour, sex, and adventure.

Sounds like a great story to indulge in with a fancy fizzy drink. And when I’m feeling fancy, I’m all about the champagne! A champagne cocktail like a Strawberry Champagne Mojito (strawberries, mint leaves, sugar, lime juice, white rum, champagne) is just what I want on a sunny summer day!

Memoirs + Margs

Jimi Werner, Strat & Ops

No longer is my summer reading done while spending hours upon hours basking in the sun on the beach. Instead, the sound of rolling waves and toes in the sand is replaced with the mighty Susquehanna and the stellar view of the city I have from the balcony of my apartment. 

Reading: Sneaker Wars 
Drinking: Margarita

I’ve had this book for too long without fully diving into it. Recently, I finally cracked it open, and I haven’t been able to put it down. It’s fascinating. 

Sneaker Wars is the story about the two at-odds brothers who own Puma and Adidas. It details their start leading up to World War II and how both rose to become giants in the shoe industry while constantly being hating with one another. 

As of late, instead of reaching for a beer, I’ve been mixing up margaritas and trying all different types of extras. My favorite thus far has been topping off a traditional margarita with a bit of Tröegs Independent Brewing’s Raspberry Tart Ale. 

Reading: Anthony Bourdain: Kitchen Confidential
Drinking: Beer

‘There’s something wonderful about drinking in the afternoon. A not-too-cold pint, absolutely alone at the bar — even in this fake-ass Irish pub.’

– Anthony Bourdain 

This is one of my favorite Bourdain quotes, and I can just replace the fake-ass Irish pub with my pretend view of sitting on the beach. 

Bourdain is one of the people who got me into writing and the need for constant learning. His book, Kitchen Confidential, is a hilarious, inciteful, and at times shocking look at the service industry world that shaped him to become the traveler and writer he was at the end of his life. 

Okay, yes I DO still drink beer, but in the summer heat, it’s all about the lighter options. I’m thinking a Mexican Lager like Tecate would hit the spot on a scorcher of a day on the balcony.

Tsundoku + NY Sour

Lauren Gutshall, Friend of the Blog

The Japanese have a word – tsundoku – for that pile of unread books that everyone has somewhere in their house — those books that wait patiently on the nightstand or the bookshelf, ready to open their worlds to the reader. I have more books waiting to be read than I care to admit – partially because every time I’m at the Midtown Scholar I leave with new additions for my growing collection.

This summer I’m looking forward to tackling my stack(s) of unread books.

American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures by America Ferrera

America Ferrera may be best known for her comedic roles in Ugly Betty and Superstore, but last year she collated a series of essays written by artists, athletes, and actors who explore their individual cultural identities and what it means to be American. Contributors include Roxanne Gay, Issa Rae, Kal Penn, Padma Lakshmi, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

With the ever-escalating debate about what it means to be American, this collection of essays feels like essential reading for everyone seeking to understand friends, neighbors, and strangers a little bit better. It provides insight into how identity and cultural norms shape our diverse experiences and how it feels to navigate the duality of growing up in a culture within a culture. 

The Regional Office is Under Attack! By Manuel Gonzales

The Regional Office is Under Attack! has been on my to-read list since it came out in 2016, mostly because I love the premise: an organization of female assassins (who all have superpowers) is charged with protecting the world from annihilation…but there’s a defector on the inside. 

Forget romances and detective thrillers, superhero satire is exactly the type of beach read I’m looking for this summer. It promises to be a fun read – skewering work life and office politics while offering up traditional superhero fare – characters with amazing powers, mysteries to be unraveled, and over-the-top fight scenes. 

Two very different books, but both require a refreshing summer drink, especially in this heatwave. My drink of the summer this year is a New York Sour: a traditional whiskey sour with a red wine float. Slightly acidic and wonderfully quaffable, the New York sour is easy to make at home and goes with everything. 

New York Sour Recipe

  • 2 parts rye whiskey or bourbon – Henry McKenna BIB is my go-to 
  • 1 part lemon juice – this is traditional, but I prefer to do 1/2 part lemon juice and 1/2 part lime juice
  • 3/4 part simple syrup
  • 1 egg white (optional)
  • Dash of bitters (optional)

Put ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a rocks glass over ice.

Use the back of a spoon to float 1/2 ounce to an ounce of red wine on top of the drink. Hearty, fruit-forward wines like a Spanish Tempranillo or Australian Shiraz work well. 


Sara Bozich
Author: Sara Bozich

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