The celebrated season of summer is upon us. And while many people’s plans may seem rather humdrum, such as seeing an outdoor concert, playing a game of mini-golf at the shore and visiting family and friends, this year these everyday activities will take on a feeling of a joyous “Hallelujah!” after more than a year of isolation.
As more and more Washington area residents are vaccinated, people are gradually venturing freely outside and the light at the end of the Covid tunnel suddenly seems within reach. Even mundane activities, like taking public transportation, making small talk on the street or trying on clothes are no longer stressful propositions. Women who have gotten their “jabs” are ready to ditch the pajamas, get their hair done in a salon and put on lipstick others may actually see.
Now that people can feel comfortable actually lowering their masks outside their home, it’s time to sip on a celebratory cocktail. This summer is going to feel more like an escape than any summer since you finished school. Even though there’s still a long road ahead, June 2021 may be the most excellent month we’ve had in a long time.
What better way to catch the spirit than an over-the-top tropical libation — the type of fruity tiki tipple you’d be sipping on the beach in Martinique if it weren’t closed to U.S. travelers. I like to think, however, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one sip. With June being a turning point in the pandemic, what a great idea to toast the month with a June bug cocktail.
The June bug, which gets its moniker from the common insect that emerges in the Eastern U.S. during the first month of summer, is exactly what a coming-out drink should be – bright, sweet and full of sunny flavors. This extra-sweet summer calls for an extra-sweet cocktail.
Forged from melon liqueur, crème de banana liqueur, coconut rum, pineapple and lime juice, this concoction has a vivid green hue that conveys a feeling of renewal and the components represent a plethora of sultry fruit goodness. Let’s face it, this summer is not the year for a subdued maxidress with a matching mask, but rather a Carmen Miranda like get-up complete with a visible smile.
Like many frou-frou drinks, the June bug can be overly cloying, but if made with quality ingredients and fresh juices it makes for a jubilant refresher. The key component is melon liqueur, which should be Midori, an emerald-hued Japanese spirit. Cheaper melon elixirs can be found, but they don’t have the complexity and subtle tartness of Midori. Second, many recipes for the June bug call for canned pineapple and bottled sour mix. Going natural with fresh pineapple and lime juice will make the difference between something fun and something resembling a spiked 7-11 Slurpee.
The June bug reached its popularity peak in the late 1990s, before the craft and classic cocktail movement exploded. It was part of a wave of colorful drinks like the woo woo, the cosmopolitan and similarly hued appletini that ruled the bar scene at the end of the century. A popular choice at TGIFridays, it remains so today. While this is hardly a testament to quality, as the pandemic continues to rage around us, the June bug is a nice flashback to the simpler days when our biggest worries were a stained blue dress and the y2k crisis that never materialized.