It’s the long weekend. I’m sure that’s not a bulletin for anybody, but to me, long weekends speak of fun, frolicking, friends, and no fuss.
Because it’s likely you want to be outside, if possible near a large body of water. You want to visit. You want to entertain or be entertained. And sure, you want to eat and drink well. And truthfully, you’ll perhaps do a bit too much of both.
But because you also want to relax, you don’t want to anything to be a bother. No fancy feasts, no time-consuming meal preparation. And with any luck, you don’t want it to cost you a fortune.
So here are some ideas for simple, easy, and — I’ll say it — cheap beverages. While wine is simple — you either pop the cork or unscrew the cap — there are other alternatives, some of which have been around for a long time, others of which are relatively new to the market. And as far as bargain-basement convenient items go, these are as simple as it gets.
When I first discovered what’s now called Billyrock Station (I believe when these were first introduced, they went by the name of Billygoat Hill), I remember thinking this was a cool, really sensible idea. While others around me were horrified, I loved the idea that this wine came in — and still does — a can. A 250 ml can. How easy for transport! Throw a few in a bag or in your purse and you’re out the door. No fussing with corkscrews. No worrying about wineglasses.
And I know lots of people who rely on the Billyrock Station products all the time for exactly those reasons. They just grab them and go. Granted, the wine is OK — nothing to write home about — but sometimes, depending on the circumstances, simple and convenient can trump exotic taste. In fact, I’d suggest that just being in a celebratory setting with friends makes good beverages taste even better, and average ones taste pretty darn good.
The Billyrock Station products are from Australia, and come in three varietals — Shiraz, Merlot, and Pinot Grigio. I’ve not tried the Pinot Griogio, but although it’s been years, I’ve had both of the reds and thought they were reasonable, if just a hair on the sweet side. My pick was the Shiraz, while my husband preferred the Merlot. Each can is $3.71 and, as mentioned, super simple to deal with.
While I haven’t had the chance to sample all of the offerings that come in cans — and there are tons of coolers and pre-mixed cocktails and the like that folks enjoy on a regular basis — I was delighted by a sample I tried at the Liquor Mart earlier this summer. Well, I should rephrase that, because it was certainly a bit sweet for my taste — I’m generally not into cocktails because of their tendency to be on the saccharine side. But I didn’t mind what I was poured, and I’m convinced lots of folks will be enamoured with it, too.
Mango seems to have become wildly popular in the last few years, and the folks at Budweiser are capitalizing on that with a new product called Bud Lime Mang-o-Rita. This is not a craft beer — in fact, I couldn’t detect any indication of beer whatsoever in this concoction, so I don’t feel I’m stepping on the coattails of the Sun’s beer columnist, Cody Lobreau, whose writings under the title ‘First Draught,’ generally appear opposite Vine Lines in the Saturday Magazine.
But while I’m sure he, quite justifiably, would roll his eyes at the above-mentioned offering, I think those folks who are into cocktails and sweet wines and fruity drink mixes — and more power to them for drinking what they enjoy — might really like this beverage (I just can’t bring myself to call it beer, no matter what the manufacturer says).
Anyway, it’s sweet, it’s fizzy, it’s definitely mango-rrific, and I think it would be great, well chilled, on a hot day. Heck, it’d probably be good any day, but it just seems to have summer written all over it. It costs $22.92 for a 12-pack of 236 ml cans, and it has the same convenience factor as the Billyrock Station. Buy it, chill it, pop it, drink it.
Whatever’s in your glass — or your can — here’s to a great August Long for everyone!
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 2, 2014