The podium of a major race is a magical place. It’s a physical representation of hard work paying off, and it’s a pleasure that only the true gods among cyclists can enjoy. It’s also a time for celebration. But how do you celebrate after transcending to the highest echelons of cycling glory? Champagne’s played out. No, you need something a little more special—a refined and classy drink that truly captures the essence of the race you just conquered. Luckily for you, your pals at Art’s Cyclery have put together a little celebration guide for next time you take home the gold (or next time you’re watching the professionals from the comfort of your own couch, no judgement here).
Tour of California
Arguably the least taxing stage race on the list, the Tour de California is a relatively flat (compared to Europe’s Grand Tours) week-long ride along beautiful coastlines and through golden hills. It’d be unfair to call this ride a cakewalk, but compared to the Giro or Paris-Roubaix it looks like a fun day at the beach. The weather’s beautiful, the scenery is breathtaking, and the competition’s a little less cutthroat than the Tour de France. A laid-back Cali race calls for a laid-back Cali drink like the Beachcomber.
Created by renowned bartender and San Fransisco native Trader Vic, the Beachcomber is a simple tiki drink that perfectly captures the spirit of the Tour of California. Like the race itself, the Beachcomber isn’t one of the most well-known members of its category (Vic’s Mai Tai, for example, is much more ubiquitous), but what it lacks in fame, it makes up for in fun and flavor. The Beachcomber’s bright as a California afternoon and smooth as Highway One, with a subtly sweet aftertaste that makes it the perfect way to wind down after a week of pedaling through the Golden State.
- 1 1/2 oz light rum
- 3/4 oz orange liquer
- 3/4 oz lime juice
- 1/4 oz maraschino liquor
- A small splash of simple syrup
- Toss all of the ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake well, serve straight up, and enjoy.
Paris-Roubaix is the kind of race that makes you wonder why the bike was invented in the first place. It’s a slog of a ride over punishing cobblestones and through terrible conditions. Paris-Roubaix is always either horribly muddy or ridiculously dusty—there’s no middle ground. It’s truly a race for the masochist (or for the rider who genuinely enjoys pedaling over miles of jittery cobblestones while either drenched in mud or choking on dust). A race this rough needs a drink that feels like a punch to the face, and the Sazerac is that drink.
With generous portions of absinthe, licorice-y bitters, and spicy rye, the Sazerac hits like a ton of bricks. It’s essentially just whiskey with the addition of a few ingredients that make it somehow even harder to drink—but damn if it isn’t tasty. Like the Queen of the Classics, the Sazerac is not for everyone, but if you’re the type of rider who relishes a challenge like the famous cobblestones of Arenberg, you’ll enjoy the demanding complexity of the Sazerac. While it’s not a French cocktail, per se, it does hail from the French Quarter in New Orleans, which is close enough, right?
- 2 oz rye whiskey
- 1 teaspoon absinthe (or herbisant)
- 3 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters
- 1 sugar cube
- Combine sugar, bitters, and a few drops of water in a mixing glass. Stir until sugar is dissolved, then add rye and plenty of ice. Stir vigorously for about 30 seconds. Add absinthe to another glass (the serving glass), and rotate until the inside of the glass is well-coated—discard (or drink if you’re feeling bold) the excess. Then strain the contents of the mixing class into your coated glass and enjoy.
Liège-Bastogne-Liège might actually be even more arduous than the Roubaix. With back-breaking climbs, loads of dirt and cobbles, and bone-chilling weather, this is not a race for the faint of heart. The last of the Ardennes Classics is a single day race, but it’ll probably be longest day of your life. By the time you hit the podium, you’ll be thinking of nothing but warming up your frozen extremities, and that’s where the Hot Toddy comes in.
The Toddy is a simple, almost medicinal drink. The toasty combination of warming alcohol, comforting spices, and soothing honey is a surefire way to get the old blood flowing again. Drink enough and you’ll forget the frigid horror of the day’s race; your aches and pains will melt away in the satisfaction of victory and the warm embrace at the bottom of another glass.
- 2 oz brandy (or whisky, or even rum)
- 3 oz boiling water
- 2 teaspoons honey
- Cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and/or any other wintry baking spices you can get your hands on
- Add sugar to a mug, then dissolve in boiling water. Add in your brandy, then immediately steep spices for about 4 minutes (preferably in a teabag or other removable steeper, but you can let the spices sit in the cocktail while drinking if you’re too tired to bother). Stir, let cool to a sippable temperature, and enjoy.
Giro di Italia
For the hardcore racing enthusiast, the Giro di Italia is possibly even more exciting than the Tour de France. The climbs are gnarlier, the roads are rawer, and the weather is often more interesting. It’s a widely accepted rumor that the Giro’s organizers intentionally make the race harder than the Tour as a matter of bragging rights. Whether or not that’s true, it’s unquestionable that this is a tough race for tough riders, and you’ll definitely need a stiff drink after trudging home with Giro Pink. The Negroni is just what the doctor ordered.
Just as the Giro is a race for the bicycling enthusiast, the Negroni is a drink for people in the know—it’s famously every bartender’s favorite cocktail. A seemingly simple drink that’s packed with layers of bitter-sweet complexity, and backed by a surprisingly tasty undertone of booziness. The Negroni is also perfect for the Giro’s unpredictable weather; it somehow feels right at home both in the middle of a blizzard and under a scorching spring sun. And with plenty of sweet vermouth and Campari, this bold drink’s as Italian as Nonna’s meatballs.
- 1 oz gin
- 1 oz Campari
- 1 oz red vermouth (please, not the $3 supermarket bottle)
- Stir gin, Campari, and vermouth in a glass with a little ice, and enjoy.
Tour de France
Ah, the Tour de France. Also known as the only race anyone outside of the cycling community has ever heard of. It’s long and grueling, but the Tour is where cycling’s biggest celebrities get made—you can be sure that you’ll face some seriously stiff competition on those steep alpine behemoths. It’s also always hotter than heck, which makes those sustained climbs all the more taxing. So, for your Tour de France victory cocktail, you’ll definitely want something refreshing. It also needs to be well-known, refined, and most importantly, French. The French 75 perfectly fits that bill.
The French 75 is basically just a Tom Collins with champagne instead of the soda water. It’s a scientific fact that a splash of champagne makes anything 10 times classier and 10 times more French. This drink looks elegant and tastes like victory, making it the perfect accompaniment to the Tour.
- 2 oz gin
- 1 oz lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- top with champagne
- Combine the gin, lemon juice, and syrup in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into your fanciest champagne flute. Fill to the brim with champagne and stir gently. Garnish with a sophisticated twist of lemon peel and enjoy.