Summer is here, and that means summer concert season. As a beverage professional, I immediately ask myself what high-quality beverage I can smuggle into my next concert, park, or outdoor venue. And what’s the best smuggling plan? I decided to poll some friends in the industry. Some told me they are fond of putting the spirit (clear is the only way to go) in a plastic water bottle, but I think that’s an easy one. My more experienced picnickers like to take a 12-pack of soda, juice, or water and fill one of the 12-pack with booze, burying that bottle among all the regular bottles. But lots of friends go the old-fashioned route — a flask filled with something great.
“Depends on the concert, but most likely a not-so-high-proof rye or bourbon, like Templeton or Bulleit 95. I like the Bulleit 95 Small Batch, because it’s not too harsh on the attack, the palate feels round, perhaps somewhat rich. It is surprisingly pleasant and offers some lemon/grapefruit notes with woody undertones. — A.J. Ojeda-Pons, Wine Director, The Lambs Club, NYC
“Well, the 19-year-old me used to smuggle ziplock baggies of bourbon into football games (stashed in a bra or a bag…) and then doctor up purchased Cokes. The much more mature me brings tequila (I still like bourbon, but not for mixing as much). Tequila works with just about anything, and it’s also fine to nip from a flask on it’s own. Preferred mixer? Any kind of sparkling water — La Croix Pamplemousse or Pellegrino Limonata both come to mind; you know, something fresh and zesty for park-drinking. Also I would add Stigl Radler (grapefruit) to my list of mixers. Michelada/Paloma style. For mixing, I prefer blanco tequila. — Jill Zimorski, Champagne Specialist, Moët Hennessy US Portfolio, Chicago, IL
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“Roger Groult, XO Calvados Pays D’Auge: An extraordinary Calvados made by what I consider the gold standard when it comes to apple brandy production. This particular XO is a blend of some very old Calvados going back as old as 60 years old. The finalized product is a volcanic explosion of bruised pears, baked apples, and marzipan that is simply elegant and leaves you wanting more.” — Yannick Benjamin, Head Sommelier, University Club, NYC
“Powers Irish Whiskey. I don’t do sugar-based drinks because you get dehydrated at outdoor concerts, so you want something to shoot. I also like mezcal or Pura Vida but nothing fancy, whatever I have on hand.” — Oscar Lorenzzi, Executive Chef, Waverly Inn, NYC
“Aquavit. It’s a new thing for me, but the cask-aged Brennivin is the perfect balance of sweet and boozy to be consumed on its own. I am not really a flask kind of guy, but if you leave it in the fridge overnight before you need it, it’ll be even more enjoyable.” — Chad Walsh, Sommelier, Agern, NYC
“You can most likely catch me ordering beer an outdoor concert, but if I’m able to carry a flask in, I’d fill it with chilled fino sherry. I’m not very ‘stealth,’ but am always carrying large purses with zippers. Sherry in a flask is great — people don’t expect it when they ask for a taste (“WHAT IS THIS!?”). I love the saltiness.” — Gabriella Macari, Macari Vineyards, North Fork of Long Island, NY
“Brugel Extra Viejo Dominican Rum, a blend that combines rums aged 3-8 years in white American oak casks and rums aged 2-3 years in ex-Pedro Ximenez sherry casks. Notes of honey, dried fruit, and caramel. Insider tip — only share this flask of rum with someone who will truly appreciate its greatness.” — Carrie Lyn Strong, Wine Director , Casa Lever, NYC
“Casa Dagones blanco tequila in my mustache-shaped flask: soft-toned with some weight on the palate. Light honey citrus notes. Technique: nonchalant confidence.” — John McKenna, Wine & Service Director, Beatrice Inn, NYC