11 Tasty Beer Alternatives to Try This Summer

Sometimes the thought of a light, bubbly, refreshing drink on a beach is enough to help us power through to the weekend. For the times when a beer just won't do, here are 11 summery alternatives, from spiked lemonade to wine slushies.


A can of Spiked Seltzer with a mermaid logo on the beach

There are a ton of spiked seltzers on the market these days in an effort to find drinks with fewer calories. The company that nabbed the actual name "Spiked Seltzer" is a great place to start, especially since it's the easiest to find. The bubbly drinks come in either bottles or cans (we prefer them poured over ice) and have 140 calories. It has a fairly light taste with just a slight kick at the end, which is surprising because it's masking 6 percent ABV. There are four flavors: orange, cranberry, grapefruit, and lime.


Four bottles of 101Cider charcoal cider on a gradient

This is a cider and kombucha in one. The probiotic drink is made with charcoal, lavender, and blood orange, and delivers a yeasty, sour kick at the end. The earthy tasting drink is just one of the many unusual flavored ciders that 101 Cider House is slinging. You can also try fun flavors like Cactus Red (a baby pink drink with a vinegary aftertaste) or Island Hopper (a tropical cider with guava and passion fruit). You can buy it online in either bottles or cases.


A glass with pink slushie and a strawberry

Take matters into your own hands and grab a blender. Following one of the many recipes online (like this one from Bon Appétit, you can create the trendy frozen drinks that'll be cropping up at various bars around the country.


Three rose cider bottles on a gradient

Looking back, it's amazing that these two beloved drinks weren't combined sooner. The crisp, dry taste of wine mixed with the sweet taste of cider makes for an amazingly addictive drink that you're going to want to have all summer. Besides being delicious, the 11.3-ounce bottles also have some of the best packaging we've seen. We're sure they'll turn up in beach selfies all over Instagram.


A can of Gordon's gin and tonic on white

Sure, you can buy gin and tonic water separately, but sometimes you just want to open the fridge and grab a drink that's already made. These 375 milliliter cans contain a nice ratio of gin and tonic, along with a little taste of lemon.


Three cans with white and yellow stripes

Be careful with this drink: Fishers Island Lemonade packs 9 percent ABV, so be sure to pace yourself. You would never be able to guess it from the taste, though. The beach town classic has a delightfully mild taste that's more like lemonade than alcohol. Before you reach for another, just remember that each can has vodka and whiskey, and like a Long Island Iced Tea, it can sneak up on you.


Three boxes of wine that are yellow black and purple

Juice boxes aren't just for kids. Bandit offers their range of wines in containers that look suspiciously like the classic juice packaging. Simply screw off the cap, pop in a straw, and you have a drink that can be enjoyed on the beach, at a barbecue, or during an outdoor movie. Of course, they're pretty big and you're expected to pour it into a wine glass, but where's the fun in that? Get one in cabernet, red wine blend, or chardonnay.


A bottle of raspberries Crabbie's and a glass sit on a bar

Ginger beer is a great soda for a Dark and Stormy, but the alcoholic version is tasty enough on its own. The super gingery booze is perfect for anyone who loves a drink with a little more zip. For something a little sweeter, the classic ginger beer company Crabbie's has a fairly new flavor called Scottish Raspberry that has a lovely, summery, pink color.


A frozen pink pop on yellow

Why drink your booze when you can eat it? These ice pops are flavored like popular cocktails like Moscow Mules or Bellinis (or champagne, if you're a purist). Best of all, it has a lighter ABV of 4.5 percent.


Coconut water with vodka in a can

Coconut is arguably one of the best flavors of the summer, and now you can drink it all season long with this spiked coconut water. The boozy beverage comes in cans that are made with vodka and pure coconut water. At 5.5 percent ABV, this drink is best served icy cold..


Tequila drink in black matte aluminum bottle on an orange background

Tiqo is a mysterious new drink that bills itself as a "premium tequila beverage." The caramel colored beverage comes in a sleek, matte black bottle with an understated minimalist design. Inside, tequila is mixed with coconut water, ginger, turmeric root, and lime.

5 Ways to Define a Sandwich, According to the Law

It’s easy to say what a sandwich is. Grilled cheese? Definitely a sandwich. Bacon, lettuce, and tomato? There’s no question. Things start to get messy when you specify what a sandwich isn’t. Is a hot dog a sandwich? What about a burrito, or an open-faced turkey melt?

The question of sandwich-hood sounds like something a monk might ponder on a mountaintop. But the answer has real-world implications. On several occasions, governments have ruled on the food industry’s right to use the delectable label. Now, Ruth Bader Ginsburg—pop culture icon, scrunchie connoisseur, and Supreme Court Justice—has weighed in on the matter.

When pressed on the hot-button issue as to whether a hot dog is a sandwich while appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Ginsburg proved her extreme judiciousness by throwing the question back at Colbert and asking for his definition of sandwich before making a ruling. Her summation? A hot dog fits Colbert's definition of a sandwich, and therefore can be considered one.

While RBG's ruling may not be an official one, it matches Merriam-Webster's bold declaration that a hot dog is a sandwich (even if the Hot Dog Council disagrees). Officially, here’s where the law stands on the great sandwich debate.


Hot dogs are often snagged in the center of the sandwich semantics drama. Despite fitting the description of a food product served on a bread-like product, many sandwich purists insist that hot dogs deserve their own category. California joins Merriam-Webster in declaring that a hot dog is a sandwich nonetheless. The bold word choice appears in the state’s tax law, which mentions “hot dog and hamburger sandwiches” served from “sandwich stands or booths.” Applying the sandwich label to burgers is less controversial, but it’s still worth debating.


When Qdoba threatened to encroach on the territory of a Panera Bread in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, the owners of the bakery franchise fought back. They claimed the Mexican chain’s arrival would violate their lease agreement with the White City Shopping Center—specifically the clause that prohibits the strip mall from renting to other sandwich restaurants. “We were surprised at the suit because we think it’s common sense that a burrito is not a sandwich,” Jeff Ackerman, owner of the Qdoba franchise group, told The Boston Globe.

The Worcester County Superior Court agreed. When the issue went before the court in 2006, Cambridge chef and food writer Christopher Schlesinger testified against Panera [PDF], saying, “I know of no chef or culinary historian who would call a burrito a sandwich. Indeed, the notion would be absurd to any credible chef or culinary historian.”

Justice Jeffrey A. Locke ruled that Qdoba would be allowed to move into the shopping center citing an entry in Merriam-Webster as the most damning evidence against Panera’s case. “The New Webster Third International Dictionary describes a ‘sandwich’ as ‘two thin pieces of bread, usually buttered, with a thin layer (as of meat, cheese, or savory mixture) spread between them,’” he said. “Under this definition and as dictated by common sense, this court finds that the term ‘sandwich’ is not commonly understood to include burritos, tacos, and quesadillas.”


If you want to know the definition of a certain dish, the officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are good people to ask. It’s their job to make sure that the nation’s supply of meat is correctly labeled. When it comes to sandwiches, the agency follows strict criteria. “A sandwich is a meat or poultry filling between two slices of bread, a bun, or a biscuit,” Mark Wheeler, who works in food and safety at the USDA, told NPR. His definition comes from the Food Standards and Labeling Policy Book used by the department (the USDA only covers the “labeling of meat, poultry, and egg products,” while the FDA handles everything else, which is why the USDA's definition excludes things like grilled cheese). Not included under their umbrella of foodstuff served between bread are burritos, wraps, and hot dogs.


The USDA’s definition may not be as simple and elegant as it seems. A sandwich is one thing, but a “sandwich-like product” is different territory. The same labeling policy book Mark Wheeler referred to when describing a sandwich lumps burritos into this vague category. Fajitas “may also be” a sandwich-like product, as long as the strips of meat in question come bundled in a tortilla. Another section of the book lists hot dogs and hamburgers as examples of sandwich-type products when laying out inspection policies for pre-packaged dinners. So is there an example of a meat-wrapped-in-carb dish that doesn’t belong to the sandwich family? Apparently strombolis are where the USDA draws the line. The Food Standards and Labeling Policy Book clearly states the product “is not considered a traditional sandwich” [PDF].


When it comes to sandwiches, New York doesn’t discriminate. In a bulletin outlining the state’s tax policy, a description of what constitutes a sandwich warrants its own subhead. The article reads:

“Sandwiches include cold and hot sandwiches of every kind that are prepared and ready to be eaten, whether made on bread, on bagels, on rolls, in pitas, in wraps, or otherwise, and regardless of the filling or number of layers. A sandwich can be as simple as a buttered bagel or roll, or as elaborate as a six-foot, toasted submarine sandwich.”

It then moves on to examples of taxable sandwiches. The list includes items widely-believed to bear the label, like Reubens, paninis, club sandwiches, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Other entries, like burritos, gyros, open-faced sandwiches, and hot dogs, may cause confusion among diners.

Big Questions
Why Do Onions Make You Cry?

The onion has been traced back as far as the Bronze Age and was worshipped by the Ancient Egyptians (and eaten by the Israelites during their bondage in Egypt). Onions were rubbed over the muscles of Roman gladiators, used to pay rent in the Middle Ages, and eventually brought to the Americas, where today we fry, caramelize, pickle, grill, and generally enjoy them.

Many of us burst into tears when we cut into one, too. It's the price we pay for onion-y goodness. Here's a play-by-play breakdown of how we go from grabbing a knife to crying like a baby:

1. When you cut into an onion, its ruptured cells release all sorts of goodies, like allinase enzymes and amino acid sulfoxides. The former breaks the latter down into sulfenic acids.

2. The sulfenic acids, unstable bunch that they are, spontaneously rearrange into thiosulfinates, which produce a pungent odor and at one time got the blame for our tears. The acids are also converted by the LF-synthase enzyme into a gas called syn-propanethial-S-oxide, also known as the lachrymatory factor (or the crying factor).

3. Syn-propanethial-S-oxide moves through the air and reaches our eyes. The first part of the eye it meets, the cornea, is populated by autonomic motor fibers that lead to the lachrymal glands. When syn-propanethial-S-oxide is detected, all the fibers in the cornea start firing and tell the lachrymal glands to wash the irritant away.

4. Our eyes automatically start blinking and producing tears, which flushes the irritant away. Of course, our reaction to burning eyes is often to rub them, which only makes things worse since our hands also have some syn-propanethial-S-oxide on them.

It only takes about 30 seconds to start crying after you make the first cut; that's the time needed for syn-propanethial-S-oxide formation to peak.


The onion's relatives, like green onions, shallots, leeks and garlic, also produce sulfenic acids when cut, but they generally have fewer (or no) LF-synthase enzymes and don't produce syn-propanethial-S-oxide.


Since I usually go through a good deal of onions while cooking at home, I've been road testing some of the different methods the internet suggests for reducing or avoiding the effects of the lachrymatory factor. Here's what I tried:

Method #1: Chill or slightly freeze the onions before cutting, the idea being that this will change the chemical reactions and reduce the gas that is released.
Result: The onion from the fridge has me crying just as quickly as room temperature ones. The one that was in a freezer for 30 minutes leaves me dry-eyed for a bit, but by the time I'm done dicing my eyes start to burn a little.

Method #2: Cut fast! Get the chopping over with before the gas reaches your eyes.
Result: Just hacking away at the onion, I get in the frying pan without so much as a sting in my eyes. The onion looks awful, though. Doing a proper dice, I take a little too long and start tearing up. If you don't mind a mangled onion, this is the way to go.

Method #3: Put a slice of bread in your mouth, and cut the onion with most of the bread sticking out to "catch" the fumes.
Result: It seems the loaf of bread I have has gone stale. I stop the experiment and put bread on my shopping list.

Method #4: Chew gum while chopping. It keeps you breathing through your mouth, which keeps the fumes away from your eyes.
Result: This seems to work pretty well as long as you hold your head in the right position. Leaning toward the cutting board or looking right down at the onion puts your eyes right in the line of fire again.

Method #5: Cut the onions under running water. This prevents the gas from traveling up into the eyes.
Result: An onion in the sink is a hard onion to cut. I think Confucius said that. My leaky Brita filter is spraying me in the face and I'm terrified I'm going to cut myself, but I'm certainly not crying.

Method #6: Wear goggles.
Result: In an effort to maintain my dignity, I try my eyeglasses and sunglasses first. Neither do me any good. The ol' chemistry lab safety glasses make me look silly, but help a little more. I imagine swim goggles would really do the trick, but I don't have any.

Method #7: Change your onion. "Tear free" onions have been developed in the UK via special breeding and in New Zealand via "gene silencing" techniques.
Result: My nearest grocery store, Whole Foods, doesn't sell genetically modified produce or onions from England. Tonight, we eat leeks!

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