Play by Day

Mastering the art of day-drinking

It's rare, but it happens. A day in NYC with no real plans, no errands to run, no deadlines to meet. Just one of those big, fat sunny afternoons when you can start drinking on the early side, if you like. It happened to me.

An extremely cold dry martini in some kind of dark, sticky-countered dive bar sounded so nice. But I was advised against this. "I'm a big believer in low-alcohol-by-volume drinks during the daytime," said Drinks Editor Jim Meehan. "Stronger cocktails are tempting but fall into the danger zone," he warned.

Right. And on a beautiful day like this, better to sit outside and be part of the world, to ride a soft buzz that buoys you through the afternoon and carefully drops you off into the evening without a bump.

Meehan suggested some cool, refreshing rosé or Hefeweizen, the particularly light, floral German-style beer made with malted wheat. Both are effortless, reliably decent at any bar and easy to pour at home.

A little stoop action

But I wanted a cocktail. Meehan steered me toward a gin and tonic, a classic I've accidentally neglected this summer. I was out of limes. He suggested an Americano, that tall, bubbly and only mildly boozy cocktail that lives in the Negroni's shadow (equal parts Campari and sweet vermouth on ice, topped with soda water). Perfect, and a delight to make for a group since there's no fussy technique involved, just pour a few glugs of liquor over ice cubes and crown with fizz.

Naren Young over at Bacchanal told me about an even gentler daytime concoction: rosé with a splash of Perrier on the rocks. "Hey, don't judge," he said. But I wasn't judging, I was taking his advice and reaching for the Bandol.

This spritz goes down dangerously easy. I'm not sure it matters how much time passes, or how many refills you make, the pink elixir helps you sustain the same sweet, sunny little buzz.

And the best part may be that if the day drinking catches up with you and you need to take an afternoon nap, you probably won't wake up with a headache.

A few more fine suggestions if you're headed out for a day drink:

"A plate of oysters and a pint of Blue Moon at the downtown P.J. Clarke's on the Hudson River is one of the best ways to enjoy a lazy afternoon." —Naren Young, Bacchanal

"I wouldn't go to Spitzer's Corner at night if you paid me, but on weekday afternoons, its prime location (and large windows) makes it a great place to camp out with a pint of Reissdorf Kolsch and watch the LES go by." —Jamie Feldmar, Senior Editor

"Sit outside on the patio at Charlie Bird with a glass of rosé, or have a serious cocktail at Bar 54 on the roof of the Hyatt Times Square." —Jim Meehan, Drinks Editor