Is There a Trick to Day Drinking?

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Kat Odell (image: Nicole Franzen)

What’s a ton of fun when the weather is nice but can knock you on your ass if not done right? The answer: day drinking. The time-honored pastime of imbibing while the sun is high in the sky gets the how-to treatment in Kat Odell’s new book, Day Drinking: 50 Cocktails for a Mellow Buzz (Workman Publishing Company, $15.95).

The book’s cover, a honey-hued distillation of a million filtered Instagram feeds, evokes the perfect lazy day beach scene: a group of friends, young, care-free, alarmingly telegenic, gripping red plastic cups in the slanting afternoon light. Life is good, it seems to say, especially from behind the curtain of a mellow buzz.

And for the next 240 pages, Odell, the founding editor of Eater’s drinks column and on-air host of Bravo’s Eat, Drink, Love, shows us the good life. Although hers isn’t the first book to focus on low-alcohol cocktails (for that, see 2013’s The Art of the Shim: Low-Alcohol Cocktails to Keep You Level by Dinah Sanders), it’s certainly the breeziest, and it’s one you’ll want to add to your summer reading list.

With her impeccable eye for the approachable, Odell lays out a vast and surprisingly varied collection of low-ABV options, from Spritzes and sherry-based cocktails to beer and bubbly drinks to all manner of brunch-ready aperitifs. There’s also a nod to large-format punches (“Grouplove”) and the mellowest of all mellow buzz drinks: the mock-tail.

Django Reinhardt

For the most part, the recipes are very easy to follow and clearly explained. Odell’s tone is that of a hip, knowledgeable BFF, constantly encouraging the reader to strike out in new directions by offering ideas to tweak recipes and variations to try. It helps, of course, that many of the drinks come from some of the country’s top bartenders. The cocktails we road-tested worked beautifully and were as sessionable as promised, like the Django Reinhardt, a refreshing vermouth and citrus number. (Get the recipe here.)

But for a title that’s so clearly aimed at young drinkers, I was a little thrown by the book’s throwback 1970s-style design, which seemed a little disconnected from the cocktail beauty shots and lifestyle images of the author and her friends lounging in various sun-splashed locales with glasses in hand. But that’s a minor design note and doesn’t detract from the value of this of-the-moment book packed with recipes we’ll want to mix all summer long.

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