Avoid the Dirty Shirley and Other Trendy Drink Traps This Summer


It took me approximately one calendar year to realize I did not like espresso martinis. It all started in June, 2021, when the New York Times proclaimed that espresso martinis were BACK, baby. I admittedly hadn’t noticed a single espresso martini out in the wild. But as soon as I finished reading, it was like I was in an espresso martini fever dream.

Everywhere I looked, someone slightly younger and not-so-slightly hotter than me was sipping their way around those three signature coffee beans floating on a cloud of foam. And so was I. I drank very cheap espresso martinis at dive bars, where ordering one returned a look of absolute disgust. I drank very expensive espresso martinis at very pretentious rooftop bars. I drank them until my head was buzzing from the caffeine, and my stomach was giving every possible signal to please, stop.

I, like so many others, had fallen into the Trendy Drink Trap. It makes sense, that after a truly terrible year-plus spent sheltering at home, distanced from our friends and our families and gathering spaces like bars and restaurants, we’d come back with a ferocious urge to be part of something bigger. There seemed to be a collective itch to prove that we may have spent 52 weeks tending to windowsill scallions and caring for sourdough starters like they were our children, but we were still cool. But this summer, for the sake of my wallet and my large intestine, I’m not falling for it again.

As the temperature rises and we all test drive our latest summer personality traits (I’ve decided I’m a Birkenstocks-and-socks guy), it’s so easy to crave the sense of cool and confidence that ordering a trendy drink brings. I feel tangible relief when I look around a buzzing, hyped up bar and realize everyone else is holding the same glass, drinking the same drink. I’ve dodged yet another social fumble.

Espresso martinis aren’t everywhere I look anymore, and I have yet to glance up from my barstool and notice everyone except me drinking the exact same cocktail. But this summer’s Trendy Drink is on the horizon, and it’s looming too big to ignore. All the hot girls are drinking Dirty Shirleys—an ombre of Sprite and grenadine, made dirty by a generous glug of vodka. Gold mint juleps. Maybe it’s sangria. And some are welcoming back the good ol’ sucker – punching dirty martini. Where Aperol Spritzes once reigned supreme—and made about a bajillion dollars for Aperol—there’s a brand new class of even sweeter, much (much) stronger drinks jockeying for a spot.

It’s hard to resist the urge to sign off—right this moment, at 10:55 am on a Friday—and find the nearest, most photogenic Dirty Shirley in town. The drink might be just as sweet and jarring as the espresso martini, yet there’s a real, undeniable pleasure to snapping a photo, sharing it online or in the chat, and becoming another body in the sea of ​​trendy drink. But you know what’s sweeter than espresso martini or sprite and vodka? Ordering whatever the hell you want this summer.

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