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June 10, 2008

Top ten summer drinks and where to get them

SummerDrinking.jpgI was considering Matt Hudock's suggestion of summer foods for this top ten, but I did it last summer and I'm not sure I have much new to add from my own experience yet this summer.

The topic didn't get much discussion, though, and I know we can do better this year, so I'm going to make it one of the entries for next week when I'm on vacation. DO NOT TALK ABOUT SUMMER FOODS YET.

Meanwhile, in this intense heat I've been thinking about summer drinks more than summer food, so I decided over the weekend that I would make hot-weather drinks, both alcoholic and nonalcoholic, this week's Top Ten Tuesday. 

There is one that isn't on the list that should be, but I don't know where to get the best: iced coffee. Maybe you can help. 

I should give a shout-out to Midnight Sun Sam, who not surprisingly was a big help in compiling this list: ... 

* Mojito at Little Havana on Key Highway

* Iced tea at Cafe Hon in Hampden

* Limeade or ginger limeade at Suzie's Soba (7 N. Calvert St., 410-528-8883) downtown 

* Margarita at Blue Agave in Federal Hill

* Sangria at Tapas Teatro next to the Charles Theater

* Lemonade at Neopol Savory Smokery's stand at the Waverly Farmers Market

* Frozen daiquiri at Stalking Horse Tavern (26 E. Cross St., South Baltimore, 410-244-6722)

* Fruit smoothie at Zia's Cafe in Towson

* Malted milkshake at Fields of Pikesville (1401 Reisterstown Road, 410-486-3375)

* Gin and tonic at the Chart House in Annapolis 


(Photo by STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)


Posted by Elizabeth Large at 4:28 AM | | Comments (52)
Categories: Top Ten Tuesdays


Great list, EL. Mojitos at Little Havana are every bit as good as the ones I had pool side in Miami 2 winters ago, and the malts at Fields are to die for. Also want to shout out to Bill Bateman's for their Tropical 'Tini (a most refreshing way to get punishingly loaded if you're not careful) and Linwood's plain (but so delicious) iced tea. Good iced tea is not as easy to find as one might think, so always good to find another place with it!

No beer? Oh, yes, EL doesn't drink beer, but when it's hot and miserable, that's what I want--a really cold one.

I love a glass of cold water with a slice of lime but lemon will do. There has been a problem for me that is directly related to reading this blog. Sometime this winter or spring we talked about the frequent contamination of lemons in retail food facilities because workers do not properly wash the fruit before it is served (or worse). So, I stopped having lemon with my drinks when in restaurants. To my husband's consternation I have started carrying my own in a little snack bag. I figure better safe than sorry. Now if only I could resolve the pesky issue of contaminated ice, life would be

I love real gin martinis at any time of the year.

Thanks for the limeade recommendation. It's my favorite summer drink, with or without additions.

I really like the lemonade at Andy Nelson's.

Iced Coffee - City Cafe in Mount Vernon

My favorite drink to cool down with is an iced tea from Baltimore Coffee and Tea in Timonium. I really enjoy the berry jamboree flavor, although each day they have different flavors already brewed and cold, ready to go -- sometimes blueberry lemon, blackberry, peach, mint, and others. Often I can't resist getting a gelato while I'm there! I know Baltimore Coffee and Tea also has a new location near the Annapolis mall but I haven't tried it out yet.

I like Baltimore Coffee and Tea's iced cappuccino. It's hands down my favorite summer drink!

And, say what you might about Starbucks, but I do like their Coffee Light Frappuccino, as well as Iced Coffee. Being able to get one of these drinks while I shop is the only reason why I go to Safeway.

I love the fruit smoothies at Zia's, a very good choice for this list! They have a good selection to choose from.

The granny smith lemonade at Liquid Earth in Fell's Point is one of the best non-alcoholic drinks ever.

A Southside served pool side made with George Lee's Southside Mix and spiced rum... Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find any mix for the last two summers... Anyone know where I can get my grubby hands on some? I'll promise to share :)

I'd actually love to drink a Mojoto at Little Havana on Key Highway. The problem is, that unlesss you're dating the bartenders, or are in their inner circle of friends, they won't really acknowledge your presence if you;'e waiting for a drink.

If the bartenders there were a little less concerned about carrying on long conversations with their buddies, and more concerned about making sure the rest of the customers are being taken care of, then yeah--maybe I'd go there more often to drink a few mojoto's in the summer.

Donna's serves good iced coffee. I don't like very strong coffee, and when served over ice with a little "moo" and sweetener, Donna's is "just right."

Summer breeze makes me feel fine ...

I saw on tv and read about "bubble tea" which was really hot a year or 2 ago. Just popped into my mind, that I never did get to try it. Did anyone try it - and what did you think? I never mall shop anymore so it could very well still be at every shopping mall and I'd have no idea!

GregBWorking, Hope this helps:

From Rob Kasper's August 15, 2007 article, In My Glass:

George Lee's Southside: Made with a George Lee's Original SouthsideMix ($20 a quart), which Lee sells from his home. (Order at 410-281-1049.)

Apparantly Mr. Lee sells it from his home. Or at least he did last summer.

Ok, two chains, but worth mentioning: Austin Grill's frozen swirlie margarita and say what you will about Dukin Donuts, but they still have some of the best coffee around... iced or otherwise!

For the first time, I had a frozen drink at Stalking Horse this past Friday. I think it was supposed to be a Hurricane.

Now let me preface this by saying that I went to Penn State and I'm no stranger to huge, cheap, should-be-awful-but-love-'em-anyway drinks.

This frozen pile was one of the worst things I've ever tasted. I can't even describe what I was tasting in there, but it felt like a mixture of rum, ice, red stuff, and sadness.

Not recommended.

Cucumber margarita at Holy Frijoles....refreshing!

Joyce W:

I love bubble tea, actually. I don't know much about locations in Baltimore, having moved to Hyattsville (I know, I'm a traitor.) But if you're down this way, Ten Ren's Teatime in College Park makes excellent bubble tea. Generally though, I find that of the mall stands, the milky looking teas tend to be gritty and nasty...I usually go with the more clear-looking, fruit flavored ones.

As for drinks, again, it's not in Baltimore, but I've got to tip my hat to the margaritas at Tequila Mockingbird in Ocean City. They're huge and candy flavored, and plenty strong enough for me. The place has half-decent food too, for a downy-ocean tourist trap.

This may sound like a strange drink but it has a nice summery feel to it. Tsunami makes a Pearl Mojo Tini. It is made with milky Pearl Sake, mojito sugar and mint all served in a chilled martini glass. It’s quite tasty.

For a quick lemonade fix.. I really like Chick-fil-A

2 refreshing, heavenly drinks to throw down:
1 - lemon/ basil elixer at Clementine's
2 - cucumber gin fizz at The Rocket to Venus.

To Joyce W.-Yes,Bubble Tea is still popular in the summer and can be had at Teavolve on Eastern Avenue in Fells Point. They are opening a second location soon in Harbor East on Aliceanna St. Bubble Tea is GREAT in hot weather..

Ugghhh....Joyce W., feel lucky you never got around to trying a bubble tea. It was like drinking a cup of tapioca pudding....GAK!

to answer the question on bubble tea, not in baltimore. Most places tend to use powder mixes. You need to venture into the suburban areas of DC, (Bethesda, Silver Spring, Potomac, etc.) best bubble tea money can buy!

Icy cold red sangria in the courtyard at Arcos on Broadway is a MUST for summer. $25 a pitcher - but so worth it!

Donny B--

I totally agree with you about Little Havana!!!!

They have one of the worst bar staffs in terms of customer service. Sure I understand when a place gets busy you're gonna have to wait sometimes. Thats expected.

But you shouldn't have to wait your butt off because the bartenders are too busy carousing with their buddies or hitting on that trio of babes they want to take home later.

And yet these are the same people who expect/demand a generous tip!

Oh it would be a wondeful place to frequent, especially in the summer. But after a handful of times dealing with the same B.S. from a bunch of immature and unprofessional bartenders, I'm happy to take my business elsewhere--where the bartenders appreciate it when I spend my money there.

If Little Havanna's very own bartenders don't want me to spend my money at their place of employment, then why should I?

My favorite summer drink? A really, really, really cold bottle of beer at the ballpark during an afternoon Orioles game. The best time to get one is like in the 2nd or 3rd inning, after they've been submerged in ice for a couple hours.

Ice cold and delicious B-E-E-R....

I love the iced coffee at Patterson Perk. Great when you're going for a summer walk through the park on a lazy Saturday.

Mmmm--Southsides! Summer is my least favorite season of the year, but with a well-made Southside in my hand I would reconsider my anti-summer stance!

I know it is not Baltimore, but there is nothing like spending a hot day at the Original Pool Bar located at the Holiday in between 66th and 67th streets in Ocean City, MD. The Rum Runners and dirty bananas are great and the atmosphere is incredible

The Havanas criticism is so over-blown. It is called a busy bar, that is what happens, I spent over 25 minutes waiting for a beer at Pickles when the Red-Sox are in town. Does that mean the bartenders are terrible? No it means they are busy. It' what happens at a busy bar and a drink that takes six or so steps to make. They are no better or worse than other bars, it's just that the guy at Joe's corner bar has plenty of time to be friendly with his three customers.

So who else in the area has great mojitos besides Little Havana? My wife enjoyed a fine one recently at The Prime Rib. Since a visit to South Beach last year (my fave was at the Delano Hotel's Rose Bar), I've been dying to find them!

I think that Donny B and Evan's take on Little Havana is dead on. The bartenders completely and totally ignore you, unless they know you personally.

I know one of the bartenders from ages ago, and he takes great care of me. But if he's not there, the other bartenders totally ignore the point of standing in front of me and not asking if I want a drink.

There's one bartender chick there who makes me want to slap her, she's so incredibly rude, such as asking the person next to me what he wants and not speaking to me. HATE her!

I can understand how people feel about inattentive bartenders. I stood at Micho's bar for 20 minutes once when all I wanted was to get a six pack to go on a Sunday. No, the bar was not packed. The 21- ish barmaids were chatting up the waiters and regulars seated at the bar and were too busy to acknowledge my old lady self! Sure didn't make me want to begin to frequent the place, that's for sure! As a matter of fact, if there's one thing that's guaranteed to make me never go back to a place again, it's rotten service.

Have Seriously and Mather ever been seen in the same place at the same time?

Even when they're not busy, the service is so ridiculously bad at Havanas that I refuse to try anymore.

The same can be said for Bay Cafe, which also has decent outdoor dining space. We have waited 15-20 minutes just to be acknowledged, on several occasions, watching other tables do the same, when it was near dead, and there were several waitresses working the outdoor tables.

Both places have the worst service by far I've ever seen in town.

Ah, Southsides! I also had a wonderful Pimm's Number 1 Cup at the Annapolis Yacht Club (I think that's what it is called) last summer on a hot, hot, hot humid day.

fairfax, why do you keep going back? I would give any place a second chance, but no more than that.

I go back to Little Havanas because that's where everyone goes after sailing at the Downtown Sailing Center. It's also very convenient to where I live, so that gets it some points. Otherwise, I make NO effort to go there.

To "Seriously"--

If you read my oriiginal criticism of Little Havannay, you would have seen where I agree that when a bar is very busy and over crowded, you should expect to have to wait for a drink.

But my experiences at Little Havannah have all been at times when the place was not too busy. And insetead of being acknowledged within a reasonable time, I've been ignored because the bartenders were too busy talking to their friends while other customers besides myself were aiting more than patiently to at the very least be acknowledged.

THAT's what I have the problem with.

Go and try any of the house infused vodkas, at Lucas Cafe, in Locust Point. The Pirate Juice is to die for! Lando can make anything! They have such good drinks, that you take a sip and feel like you should be at the beach! Yummy and dangerous!

The "Orange Crush" at Mamas on the Half Shell!

Baltimore is a haven for BAD service,
I agree with the above poster's accessment: Little Havana's service is very, very bad.
Unfortunately, most of Baltimore's bartenders fall under this category.
Where can you find someone who takes pride and cares about their job and can make a good, efficiently quick drink in this town?

Orange Crush

I must be really susceptible to earworms lately...

Follow me, don't follow me
I've got my spine, I've got my orange crush

And a special crush for the good Doctor...

This showed up in my email this morning from and sounds really refreshing.

Cantaloupe Crush

Serves: 2

Whether you're in need of a cool, refreshing snack or breakfast idea, this is the perfect nutritious pick-me-up.

1 cup cantaloupe cubes
1/3 cup pineapple chunks
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup frozen or canned peaches
1 teaspoon sugar
3 ice cubes

1. Whirl all ingredients in a blender until smooth.

NUTRITION INFO (per serving)
Calories: 96.6
Fat: 0.4 g
Carbohydrates: 24.3 g
Protein: 1.3 g

Be careful of your summer drinks. You don't want to turn into a GIRL DRINK DRUNK:

Right now, I'm really diggin the new frozen fruit drinks at Baltimore Coffee & Tea, especially the Peachy Keen flavor.

It's really delicious and was definitely refreshing during the recent heat wave!

Aguas frescas and nimbu pani (salty). Or, if it is really, really hot, salt lassi.

Wino wrote: "Where can you find someone who takes pride and cares about their job and can make a good, efficiently quick drink in this town?"

I consistently get good service at Waterfront Hotel in Fells Point. They're not going to talk you up all night, but your drinks are quickly refreshed and they can make a decent martini, which is not too common in Fells.

And, since this is food blog, the food there is not bad, certainly not exceptional, but they've got a good niche. EXCELLENT fries.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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