Summer drinking, according to my husband, begins and ends with one thing: Miller Lite. And if you wanna change it up a little, you can switch between bottles and cans of Miller Lite. But, let’s face it, I’m a girl and his wife so, of course, I’m going to disagree with his theory.

But being a long time cattle girl, I would also be remiss if I didn’t say the first stop on anyone’s consumption tour should be the beer tent! Summer is nothing without a good, old-fashioned, paper-wristband-plastic-cup-picnic-bench-sitting time in a beer tent at the local county fair or the hometown 4th of July festival.

Then again, I’m not a beer-drinker. Shh…please don’t mention this too loudly. It’s a huge embarrassment to my image as the farmer’s daughter, but unfortunately, it’s true. I’m big on the girly drinks. And why shouldn’t we all be? They taste freaking good! And I don’t know about you, but I like to drink drinks that taste worthy of the calories. I know we all drink for different reasons. Maybe you drink to get rid of the shit you’d like to forget. The problem there is that I don’t advocate a permanent state of intoxication so I don’t know how much good that will do you, but whatever. Maybe you drink because you’ve had a long, hard, hot day in the sun and it’s like a Nestea Plunge into a bottle instead of a pool (Does that bring back memories, or what?). Maybe you drink because a summer drink brings a sense of relaxation to sit back and enjoy the simple things. Or maybe you drink to loosen up. Apparently, people like me can be total control freaks but you put a few drinks in us and we become fun people again. Personally, I avoid drinking for that reason. No need for too many pictures of my drunken perma-smile in the world!

And although there are many reasons to knock ‘em back, I like the social aspect of it. Drinking is for toasting, and I don’t mean being toasted, I mean making toasts. Be sure to take time to raise your glasses with Pink and toast whatever deserves your praise – maybe your deceased grandmother and her round of Manhattans for everyone at the table, or maybe a toast to Spring Break 1995 and the bikini body you had then, or maybe a toast to your wife of 14 years for putting up with you as you sit with your farmer tan and jeans shorts unbuttoned at the patio table. Whatever the reason, I really believe that toasting is a chance to verbalize your gratitude and no one will accuse you of being lame because “it’s all good” when partaking alcoholic beverages.

But I’m guessing you’re not here to be judged on why you drink or how you should drink, you’re wondering what’s on the drinking list this summer. Well, the summer of ’11 is not for the sophisticated types. It’s for the frou-frou summer lovers with their flip flops and multi-colored plastic party cups and cozies! It is definitely the summer of vodka! And I feel a Cocktail moment coming on,
“The sex on the beach. The schnapps made from peach. The velvet hammer. The Alabama slammer. I make things with juice and froth: The pink squirrel, The three-toed sloth. I make drinks so sweet and snazzy: The iced tea, The kamakazi, The orgasm, The death spasm, The Singapore sling, The dingaling. America, you’ve just been devoted to every flavor I got, But if you want to get loaded, Why don’t you just order a shot?”

And if you’re going to have shots, they should definitely be Jell-o shots with Cool Whip on top. Nothing says summer like a limey vodka Jell-o shot! Or if you prefer, there’s always strawberry banana, mixed berry, or grape. A virtual rainbow of summer shots. Rumor has it you can make popsicles, too. Just don’t get ‘em mixed up with Little Emma or Joshua’s freeze pops!

But I know, I know, some of you prefer to not eat your drinks. I have no idea what’s wrong with you. Please keep in mind I was the girl in college who drank the vodka lemonades, the strawberry strippers, and the blue bullfrogs – I’m a sucker for a sweet treat. As a cattle girl, I have to admit I always like something that comes in a bucket, too. With both of those in mind, you can’t go wrong with a Bucket O’ Daiquiris or Margs. You can have your fix in a few hours by drowning your bucket in tequila or rum and popping it in the freezer for an afternoon of fun.

I’d also like to take a minute to be an advocate for Daily’s. You’ve seen them at the store. They’re those Capri-Sun pouch looking Cocktail singles. They come in daiquiris, mojitos, margaritas, and pina coladas. Not only do they taste fabulous but they’re perfect for the modern girl’s tea time. Scrap the tea and show up with frozen gift pouches in hand. One for everybody! (Plus, if the guys’ “tee time” goes a little long, you can get lit without ‘em.) Just sayin’.

Now, I’m sure by the list so far, you’re expecting a jungle juice recipe and actually, I think I have one, but we’ll stick with the easy stuff. Another single-and-ready-to-mingle drink is compliments of Long John Silver’s. Really? You don’t say? But I do. Grab your bottle of vodka at Kroger and swing by LJS for a strawberry lemonade Ice Flow. When you get home, dig out the QT Big Gulp and mix together to drunken oblivion. I’m telling you it’s to die for. It’s the easy version of what my friend concocts in her blender with real strawberries, frozen lemonade concentrate, and vodka to which she loving refers to as old-skool Bloomer Droppers, aka Panty Peelers. And boys, I think you can fill in the blanks! Girly drinks? Yes. Still useful? Yes.

But my newfound love of the summer comes compliments of a college friend who’s known my drinking habits for 17 years. She brought me the Blue Dew VooDoo. Yes, folks, I’m telling you it will be a season of cold cocktails and summer sun when you kick back with a Mountain Dew and UV Blue raspberry vodka mixer. That is love, my friends.

But whatever you’re consuming, be it a Coors Light, a Leinenkugel’s Summer Ale, or a Southern Comfort and 7, kick the shoes off, put some Jimmy Buffett on, and beer-breathe on somebody close to you with a clink of glasses and a tipsy smile because it’s the Summer of … ’11, Baby!