What Hyman Roth Said: More Summer Cocktails

June 26, 2014

Editor’s note: Molotov Cocktail is our drinks blog.  It features reviews of spirits, beer, and wine; great cocktail recipes WOTR readers are sure to appreciate; and any other content we think fits.  Check back often.  And bottoms up!


When I returned from Iraq in 2007 I wrote a piece for The American Interest called “The Business We’ve Chosen.” The title for this piece was taken from a famous scene in The Godfather II where Hyman Roth tells Michael Corleone to forget about the killing of his friend because all mobsters knew the risks associated with their chosen profession. Those of us in the policy analysis, policy formulation, and policy implementation fields also know that rarely is the news in the security studies sector particularly rosy and yet this is the business we’ve chosen. Recent events in Iraq have brought this back to my mind. The onset of the summer heat and humidity exacerbates this frustration.

For many years in the summer I was spoiled by being able to watch the sterling play of my Philadelphia Phillies to take my mind off of the world’s problems. The beauty of following a baseball team near religiously is that they are there for you to cheer or curse nearly every day from April to September… and even October if you are lucky. But the past two and a half years have not been kind to my Phillies. Therefore, before the disappointment starts, I thought that I would offer some similarly afflicted brothers and sisters in arms with some cocktail ideas to help mitigate professional frustrations and the summer’s heat and humidity. (I assure my professional kin in Washington that Philadelphia is similarly nasty in the summertime in both categories.)

The Dibshiyamaker. On a beautiful day in 2007, in the near Wizard of Oz-like greenness of springtime in western Ninevah province, I learned that the Arabic word (at least in Iraqi Arabic) for watermelon is dibshiya. I discovered this from one of my team’s interpreters because the town we were conducting a cordon-and-search of was called Dibshiya for the watermelons they grew there.

Several years later I discovered the wonderful 21st Amendment beer Hell or High Watermelon. This is a wheat beer that is brewed with watermelon puree. It is not sweet, but it is incredibly refreshing on a hot summer’s day or night. (A nice thing about this beer is that it comes in cans and is therefore easily stackable in limited refrigerator space.) A year or so after finding this beer, a bartender at Fergie’s Pub in Philadelphia (a wonderful true pub where I misspent many nights in my bachelorhood) told me that it was even better when one added some chilled Hendrick’s Gin to the beer—either in the can or in boilermaker style in a pint glass. The bartender didn’t have a name for this cocktail, but I have tried it many times and I can profess that it is a wonderful, if somewhat dangerous drink because it goes down very smoothly and the cucumber and watermelon flavors work exceptionally well together. I christen this the Dibshiyamaker.

South Philly Sangria. One past summer evening when I was living in the largely Italian section of South Philadelphia I ran out of beer and was looking for something to quench my thirst. Being the improvisational fellow that I am, I noticed that I had some Italian water ice and some mid-range box wine on hand that was left over from a party that my wife and I had thrown. So I poured a glass of wine and scooped in a large dollop of water ice and South Philly Sangria was born. The nice thing about this cocktail that it is very scalable in terms of one’s tastes. Box wine is no longer purely the domain of five-liter boxes of Franzia. Like pinot noir? You can do worse than Pinot Evil. Like Riesling? There are many options. With South Philly Sangria you can scale this across your tastes and price points. Regardless, it is thirst quenching.

Bottoms up and cheers!


Michael P. Noonan, a WOTR contributor, is Director of Research at the Philadelphia-based Foreign Policy Research Institute and an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran.

Photo credit: Harsha K R