This is it, the last weekend of summer. Sure, that’s not what the astronomers or the meteorologists will tell you. But you know when you see Labor Day on the calendar, and feel that first chill in the afternoon winds, that this is it. Our music needs to be something breezy, and maybe a little melancholy.
George Benson’s “Breezin'” is a too-obvious choice — but so what? It’s still damn good music. Here he is performing live in the UK, an unbelievable 35 years ago. Benson had himself a crossover hit with “Breezin’,” which was all over the Top 40 stations the summer I turned eight. It was almost certainly the first jazz tune I ever heard on my own radio — a tiny olive green handheld AM relic powered by a nine-volt battery I used to remove so I could stick the contacts on my tongue. The fact that it played on my radio gave it an acceptability factor it never would have gotten had Mom or Dad tried to force me to listen. And a lifelong love was born.
For the occasion, we need just the right drink. It’s a little something I came up with for my lovely bride, and I call it — of course — Breezin’. (Melissa vetoed “Passing Wind.”)
Any decent brut champagne
2 ounces Citron vodka (Ketel One Citroen is excellent, priced right, and mixes well)
1 ounce pomegranate juice
1 teaspoon simple syrup
Six leaves of basil
In the bottom of a small cocktail shaker, muddle the basil in the pomegranate juice. Add the simple syrup and vodka, then a handful of ice. Shake gently until chilled, then divide evenly between two champagne flutes. Top off each flute with champagne. Give it a quick stir, then garnish with more basil. They’ll come out a sunset color, which seems sadly appropriate.
Serve with George Benson turned up to six and the last Saturday of the summer.
Here are the two I just made.