Archives: Summer

The Americano cocktail, a unique summer drink

With the warm weather comes the circus of summer cocktails. You know the ones I’m talking about – the rum punch, the pina colada, the margarita, etc. And while there is nothing inherently wrong with any one these (I happen to be fond of an authentic rum punch), most have been Americanized with the addition of sweet syrups and pre-made mixes that have more chemicals than natural ingredients.

Allow us to offer up an alternative. The Americano.

(Yes, there is a drink and a coffee version)

The Americano cocktail is an International Bartender’s Association (IBA) official drink. Although you may not often see it ordered in a bar, it remains a classic. The cocktail was first served in creator Gaspare Campari‘s bar in the 1860s. Similar to the origin story of the cafe Americano (the coffee), the story maintains that the Italians noticed a surge of Americans who enjoyed drinking the red cocktail – at that time it was called the Milano-Torino. And as a nod to the Americans, the cocktail later became known as the Americano.

It’s a bit of an acquired taste, but there is only one way to find out if you like it!

What you’ll need

Campari

Campari is a bitter Italian aperitif and usually hovers at just over 20% alcohol. It is the result of an infusion of herbs and fruit and is characterized by its bright red color. The liqueur was invented all the way back in 1860 and at that time, the red color was actually the result of carmine dye – derived from crushed insects. This was true up until 2006, when the manufacturer stopped using carmine dye, altogether.

Regardless, Campari has been around for a long time. And aside from being an essential ingredient in the classic Negroni, we use it here in the Americano.

Note: If you want to step down the alcoholic content, try substituting Aperol for Campari. It has about half the alcohol content of Campari and even smells and tastes similar.

Sweet Vermouth

There are a handful of great vermouth brands out there, grab whatever you have handy.

Soda water

Dealer’s choice with the soda water. Brett and I prefer the cheap stuff since we can’t honestly taste a difference between budget soda water and the European cousins when mixed.

Old fashioned glass

An old fashioned drink calls for an old fashioned glass!

Ice

We recommend large ice cubes for an updated look and feel. And if it’s hot outside, one large piece of ice will last longer than smaller pieces. Brett and I even went so far as to use one singular ice cube – one that almost fills the glass completely. Just promise us that you won’t use the sad little ice chunks that you find at the corners of your ice cube try.

Orange

For garnish! Or, swim upstream and try a grapefruit.

How to make it

Step 1: Mix

1 oz Campari

1 oz sweet vermouth

Combine in the glass over ice

pouring campari

Step 2: Top with soda

Add soda water to your liking. But err on the side of just a splash.

Step 3: Garnish

Carefully peel the orange and add a twist to the glass.

finished americano

Your turn

So, there you have it, the Americano. Super easy.

It’s an aperitif that’s perfect for a hot summer afternoon. And one that goes great with a short sleeve linen shirt and seersucker shorts, but that’s a different story.

By Ryan Wagner

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How to dress like James Bond – Casino Royale

I’m a big James Bond fan.

I always aspired to have the poise and confidence that my favorite fictional spy is known for. And this summer, with the combination of the heat and my new-found interest in reading Ian Fleming’s original novels, I set out on a lofty goal. One that would require hours and hours of online research and much pause/play of the film Casino Royale. All in hopes that I could dress like James Bond.

In the film, Bond visits Nassau on “vacation” and is seen sporting a light grey linen suit with a very cool white dress shirt worn underneath. Now for those of you that may need a refresher, check out this excellent blog post to get a better view of the original shirt from the film.

It’s this white shirt that I wanted to recreate. My reasoning was two-fold. First, it’s the perfect time of year to sport a sophisticated short sleeve dress shirt and secondly, I could wear it under my new linen/wool sportcoat.

Let’s go through it from the beginning and then you can tell me how authentic (or inauthentic!) I may have been.

We’ve dubbed the shirt, Royal.

Fabric

So, if this was to be a warm weather shirt, we had two options – cotton or linen.

Linen breathes like a screen door and is a warm weather staple, albeit a wrinkly one. Cotton is not only breathable, but versatile – it looks right at home in either the office or on a warm cafe patio.

We could have went either way, but to stay true to the film, we chose cotton.

fabric

Collar

Here’s where things get interesting. Because second to the fabric, I’d argue that the collar style has a huge impact on the overall level of formality of a dress shirt. A very shallow, frumpy looking collar is going to convey a relaxed look. Consequently, you’re nixing any chance of wearing a sportcoat, as any weak collar will fold under the pressure of a jacket. On the other hand, a stiffer collar will hold up better and look a little more dressy.

Bond’s shirt had a very strong collar. It was almost the type of collar you’d expect on a more formal evening shirt. But this selection makes sense when you look back at other bond films; his style is often traditional and simple. That is, he’s not wearing bright color or bold pocket squares. And usually when he’s dressed casually, it’s still more dressed up than those around him.

So we chose our 2-inch traditional collar to keep the shirt dressy and to pair well with a jacket.

Epaulettes

Let’s talk about the epaulettes. Common on many military uniforms, epaulettes were typically functional – one would button them down over their berets. Today, you rarely see them on clothing, expect the odd shirt at the mall, and even then it’s usually marketed towards a much younger audience. And this is rather odd, because epaulettes are a very masculine feature on clothing.

In my opinion, this is what makes the shirt. Because it’s a very unique detail, and honestly, it’s pretty subtle, isn’t it? With the white on white, you can barely make them out until you look close. And this is something people are only going to notice when they are up close talking to you. They aren’t a distraction, but an enhancement.

epaulettes

Contrast lining

Here’s where we departed a little bit from the film. We wanted to have a little fun with the contrast lining inside the collar, but we didn’t want anything too distracting. In other words, we didn’t want to add color for the sake of adding color.

What we ended up with was a very coastal, and in my opinion – Mediterranean, fabric. The blue refers to the top and bottom contrast button threading, and will pair nicely with the summer sportcoat I built a month ago.

contrast-fabric

Overall style

Clean, neat, and masculine.

That’s how I would describe Bond’s succinctly.

A couple other things you should know is that we cut the shirt a little on the short side so that one could wear it untucked. However, there is enough shirt tail to still be tucked in neatly, without fear of the sides coming out.

Make it your own

Naturally, you can grab the shirt for yourself by visiting our online store. Alternatively, you can take the tips above and build your own shirt. Because many of the style points above transcend fabric and will help you to build one awesome summer dress shirt.

Wrap up

What do you think? How did we do? We tried our best to capture the key details of this shirt, while still adding a little BE uniqueness.

By Ryan Wagner

5 smart ways to stay cool this summer – with style

summer-style

Before our first 90 degree day here in the Denver area, I thought it prudent to write an article on smart ways to stay cool this summer, but still look sharp.

Why is this important? As opposed to say, hopping from air conditioned box to air conditioned box?

Because sooner or later, you’re going to find yourself walking 4 city blocks for coffee (see tip #5) or on a hot patio for a lunch meeting with a client. In either scenario, you would be far better off if you didn’t need to worry about wet pits, right?

So, let’s get started. Here are 5 clever ways to keep cool as the mercury rises this summer.

1. Choose smart fabrics

Cotton and linen should be your go-to picks for the hot days of summer. They both breath well and are easy to clean. And linen, as you probably know, wrinkles like nobody’s business, but that’s perfectly OK. Honestly, I think it’s the wrinkles that make it look so great.

Then there’s seersucker – that quintessential Kentucky Derby material. The pucker of the fabric helps to create little air channels that will work to circulate air around you.

2. Unbutton your cuffs

This is a great way to vent your shirt, because any additional opening will help to transfer warm air and keep you cool.

But you have to be careful and make sure that this doesn’t look sloppy. Obviously, for French cuff shirts, once you take out the cuff link all hell breaks loose, but even traditional cuff shirts can sometimes act a little unruly. So, just make sure that your sleeve isn’t too baggy and I think you’ll be fine.

And of course, you can roll up your sleeves. However, you’ll find that on really warm days, this can actually restrict air flow down your arm, because bunching up all that fabric and cinching it above your elbow is basically acting as a blockage.

3. Short sleeves

Just because you joined the ranks of the adult population doesn’t mean that your short sleeve days are over, it just means that you need to be a little more careful in your selection. Steer clear of baggy shirts and anything that makes an effort to intentionally tell you it’s “relaxed.”

And remember, short sleeve button up dress shirts are just like long sleeve shirts in the sense that there is formal and there is casual. For instance, building a shirt with front pockets in seersucker is going to be a relatively casual looking shirt. On the other hand, choosing a fine linen with a clean front and with a strong collar is something that can be worn under a blazer.

Speaking of blazers, it is perfectly OK to wear a short sleeve button up dress shirt or crisp polo shirt under a blazer – so long as it’s hot outside. Most of the time, you want to wear long sleeves so that a little bit of your shirt peaks out from your jacket cuff and helps to frame your overall look. But in the summer, there’s nothing wrong with opting for a short sleeve linen shirt with a collar that can still hold its shape under the weight of a jacket lapel.

4. Unstructured jackets

Speaking of jackets, there is no reason to stop wearing them in the summertime, you just need to be smart about it. And that means wearing a lightweight, unstructured summer sportcoat. If you missed my blog a couple weeks back, here’s everything you need to know.

The takeaway, is that a summer jacket will have very little to no lining. Therefore, the jacket will be more breathable and comfortable in warm weather.

5. Skip the hot coffee

I’ll be the first to admit that hot coffee in the morning is an absolute necessity for many months of the year, but when it gets really warm, consider swapping out your favorite java for its iced cousin. Same goes for tea – if you’re usually drinking hot tea, switch it over to iced tea.

The reason being is that hot liquids are only going to warm up your core temperature. In the winter time this was obviously in your favor, but in the summer it’s detrimental to your efforts to stay cool and not sweat in your clothes.

Wrap Up

There are a handful of other clever things you can do to stay cool, but for now, this is a good starting point. What did I miss? What are your tricks to keeping cool in the dog days of summer?

And if you need a refresher on some of the most practical warm weather essentials, check out this article from The Modest Man.

By Ryan Wagner

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The Perfect Shirt for Summer – Part I

As I am sure you would expect, those of us at BE have ordered some summer shirts.

And as they begin to trickle in, we thought that it would be fun to feature each one in its own blog post. This way, we can give you some insight into how we design our own shirts.

Summer is a fun time to start something like this. Because shirt style is a little less formal and a little more playful. For instance, the business stripes and plaids take a back seat to the prints and the more textured fabrics, like linen.

Since Brett’s shirt arrived first, we are going to kick off the Perfect Shirt for Summer series with a versatile print style. In my opinion, it has Mediterranean vacation written all over it.

Consequently, we’re calling it the Sorrento, after the peninsula located in Southern Italy.

But don’t think that you need to be zipping around the Italian coastline in your vintage Fiat in order to wear a shirt like this; Brett drives a 4Runner!

So, let’s break it down.

Fabric

Brett wanted something semi-casual. A shirt that he could wear to the office, but that would also pass for poolside style. What he ended up with was a white with blue print. The abstract design has coastal references and just looks downright cool.

To dress it up, Brett can carefully choose a bow tie or neck tie (this is tricky though, for any print design), and wear the sleeves down and cuffs buttoned. Or, he can loosen the collar and roll the sleeves up for happy hour on a patio.

Cuffs

Regarding the cuffs, Brett wanted to do something a little different and so he chose the envelope style. This is a unique cuff design and one that you don’t see very often.

I think it has an almost vintage appeal.

Bretts-shirt-detail

Collar

Depending on which day of the week it is, I sometimes feel that the button down collar is formal and then sometimes I say just the opposite. Today, I’m thinking it depends on the fabric. And with the more casual print fabric of the Sorrento, I think Brett really nailed it with the button down collar. I say this because the buttons help to add some structure and help the collar maintain its shape. After all, there are no collar stays, so this is important.

Bretts-collar

Accents

You probably already noticed the red button hole stitching on the cuff, didn’t you? The bright red looks great up against the white of the shirt and blue background. And when you wear the sleeves down and buttoned, it provides you with an opportunity to show off the detail of the shirt.

However, you may notice that Brett didn’t carry the accent theme across all of the button holes, as that would make for a potentially distracting shirt (especially on a predominately white background).

Bretts-made-in-the-usa

Wrap up

Want to be just like Brett?! The Sorrento is available today in our online store.

And we will continue to build on this series.

By Ryan Wagner