The Acropolitini, made with Grand Marnier, Amaretto Disaronno, pineapple juice and grenadine, could almost be a dessert drink.
It's hot. You need refreshment. As great as a cold beer goes down on a hot summer day, my taste buds instinctively turn to the lighter, sweeter flavor of Riesling wines. One reason for their appeal is that there are so many flavor styles under that banner. The most basic styles are tagged as sweet, but vintners play with that spectrum, with classifications that include "medium sweet," "medium dry" (which has only a small amount of sweetness) and, for those who want no sweet notes, "bone dry." After getting the rap that all Rieslings are soda-sweet, producers are doing a better job of labeling so that someone who wants a drier version doesn't wind up with sweet, and vice-versa.
I could go into a lot of blah blah about pH and acid and sugars and Count John IV of Katzenelnbogen. Instead, here are a few highly drinkable Rieslings I can recommend: Kilikanoon 2011 Riesling Mort's Block ($20) - Crisp with strong citrus and floral flavors, this southern Australian wine is versatile enough to pair with heavy dishes as well as lighter entrees. St Hallett 2011 Eden Valley Riesling ($15.99) and 2011 Poacher's Blend Semillon Sauvignon Blanc Riesling ($12) - This Riesling is crisp and very dry with the expected citrus bite. For the Poacher's Blend, the Australian winery rewards Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon fans who want their glass a bit sweeter by adding a bit of Riesling to give the finish a crisp touch. Pewsey Vale 2012 Eden Valley Dry Riesling ($13.99) - Another Australian label, this is the opposite of sweet but packs plenty of fruit flavor as well as a floral and mineral finish. Biltmore Riesling ($10.99) - North Carolina has a growing wine industry and the Biltmore Estate, a French-style chateau turned resort in Asheville, produces some of the state's finest varieties. This crisp, semi-sweet version rewards curious drinkers and pairs well with heavy cheeses, spicy food and fish. COME DRINK WITH ME Ken Walter's "Celebrate Sinatra" shindig is almost here. Hard to believe, but this is the 16th year for the black-tie optional Rat Pack-themed party, which takes place at The Ritz in Ybor at 8 p.m. July 27. Walters is theming this party to the Lake Tahoe casino years of The Chairman of the Board's life. Cigars, casino gaming tables and Big Band music will abound. So will cocktails. Complimentary martinis are served during the first hour, with a cash bar after that. Swingers may want to opt for a glass of Ocean's 11. Dames should give Sinatra's Sip a tipple. To purchase tickets, visit ken walters.com/Celebrate-Sinatra. Tickets are $50 per person in advance and $60 at the door. GREAT SIPS The Acropolitini at the Acropolis on Bloomingdale Avenue in Riverview. Made with Grand Marnier, Amaretto Disaronno, pineapple juice and grenadine, it could almost be a dessert drink. Elderflower and Pear martini at The Bungalow on Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa. The Smirnoff vodka, strawberries, muddled mint, lime juice and simple syrup paired well with the Cuban sandwich. Corpse Revivor #2 at Cask & Larder's Southern Brewery & Kitchen in Winter Park. The Greenbrier gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc and lemon juice lightened the rabbit meatloaf at lunch. CIGAR CITY CREATES BEER CLUB Cigar City Brewing has created the El Catador Club, a members-only bottle program that guarantees five bottles of barrel-aged beers that have yet to be created. The name "El Catador" refers to the official taster at cigar factories who must determine the flavor and aroma of each batch. The $120 memberships go on sale at 5 p.m. Sunday at the brewery's tasting room at 3924 W. Spruce St. in Tampa. Memberships sold on premises will be available until 1,000 are sold. After that, a small number will be sold online. Fill out the membership form online in advance to save time and bring cash to the tasting room to save six bucks; credit card purchases will cost $126. Beyond not having to wait in line at brew events (members can pick up at their convenience), being a club member also gets you a T-shirt and other perks, such as a 10 percent discount in the tasting room. For information, visit cigarcitybrewing.com. firstname.lastname@example.org (813) 259-7324