Anything Goes on the Jersey Shore

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From tequila and Red Bull to pink whiskey, here’s what summer drinking looks like at Asbury Park’s iconic beach.

With roots tracing back to the late 1800s, Asbury Park, New Jersey, has shifted and changed over its centuries-long history. You wouldn’t have guessed by the coolers filled with beers and handles of vodkas now dotting the coastline, but it was originally a “dry town,” developed as a residential resort named after Francis Asbury, one of the first American bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States. 

In the 1930s, a vibrant LGBTQ+ community grew in Asbury Park; queer folks opened bars like the Tearoom, Paddock Bar and the Blue Note, along with a lesbian bar called Chez-L. Although these bars became targets of anti-gay enforcement by the state, now Asbury Park is home to queer rights organizations like Garden State Equality; every year, New Jersey’s largest Pride parade is held in the neighborhood. In the 1960s, a prominent music scene emerged, and rock and roll constantly filled the air; in the ’70s, Bruce Springsteen named his debut record after the town.

Today, it’s a thriving haven for a diverse tapestry of visitors who come to swim, dance to live music and drink. The beaches are pristine enough to see your toes under the water. There’s a classic boardwalk—arcades and snack bars strewn throughout—that sets the stage for any summer day on the sand, and a night out on the town. 

To capture the pulse of this season’s beach scene, I traversed Asbury’s crispy-hot sand on a Sunday in August to ask beachgoers what they were drinking.

What’s in your cooler today?

Aranxza: High noons! Not to be confused with high boobs! 

What’s your favorite music to listen to at the beach?

Aranxza: I just like to hear the crashing waves; it’s god’s playlist.

[Laughter all around]

Melanie: And the soundtrack of people’s conversations. 

If Asbury Park Beach had an official drink, what do you think it would be?

Melanie: Shirley Temple! The kind you order when you’re at Applebee’s. There’s a lot of younger people and children in Asbury today.

Robbie: Sex on the Beach!

Aranxza: That’s how they got the kids!

So, Charles, what’s in your cooler today?

Charles: We have Caymans, Modelos, waters and Coke. Oh, and a pink whiskey, taking little shots of that.

Where’d you guys come from today; are you local?

Charles and friends: It’s our first time! We came in from Passaic. 

What’s your favorite music to listen to on the beach?

Charles: Anything dembow! Some Bad Bunny, Peso Pluma, Fuerza Regida. We like all genres in this group.

Remi: We in Asbury Park and we chillin!

Lexi: Living our best life!

What’s in your cooler today?

Remi: Today we got Coconut Cîroc, because we been drinking too much Don Julio and Casamigos. So we decided to go with some vodka today, and my dad over there has a Margarita. 

Are you local?

Remi: About an hour and half away. 

If Asbury Park Beach had an official drink what would it be?

Remi: The Remsbury!

I don’t even know what the Remsbury is?

Lexi: The Remsbury! That’s good!

Remi: My name is Remi, we in Asbury—it’s the Remsbury!

What’s your drink of choice now versus when you first began drinking?

Remi: We would drink Mad Dog 20/20 and Alizé. Olde English, but we didn’t drink a lot of beer. Remember Cisco? Hpnotiq, The Incredible Hulk [a cocktail made from mixing Hpnotiq and Hennessy]. Now they have fancy names, but back then they had [other] names to them.

Lexi: We used to drink cheap liquor—because we were younger, we didn’t know yet what was good liquor.

Remi: Now it’s just Don Julio with Red Bull.

Lexi: Yeah, reposado, nice and clean and smooth!

What’s your favorite music and drink at the beach?

PPPB: Dembow, 100 percent, and pineapple juice!

What’s in your cooler today?

Jasmine: In my cooler today I have tequila and vodka.

What’s your favorite music to listen to on the beach?

Jasmine: I’m sure you can hear it in the background: a little hip-hop, you know.

How has your drink of choice changed over the years?

Jasmine: My first drink ever was actually Bacardi 151. It was very strong, just straight up. It was all we could get our hands on! Now it’s all about the vodka—Cîroc life for me.

What’s in your cooler today?

Micheal: We have High Noons!

Jill: I brought some White Claws. OG.

Friend: Within my cooler, I have a chicken salad sub, tortellini salad and Surfsides. 

Fresh!

Katie: There’s some Surfside iced tea. Ramona Singer’s dry sparkling wine. Pineapple-coconut Lemon Perfect [lemon water], a [canned] Bramble cocktail mule, iced tea [and] vodka. Tell me who has a better bag than this?! Oh, and then I have a Mamitas tequila and soda. This is a homemade watermelon-mint iced tea with fresh mint and muddled lemon.

If Asbury Park Beach had an official drink, what do you think it’d be?

Friend: It would change every summer.

Jill: Yeah, it changes every year. This year, Summer Surfside and Nooch!

Katie: What? Oh, Neutral! Yeah, that’s like runner-up. It’s a spiked seltzer that comes in different flavors. I wanna say it’s organic and tastes like something fresh and not out of a can. 

What’s your drink of choice now versus when you first began drinking?

Friend: Water with lemon. [I’m] sober!

Where did you come from today?

Jose: We all came from Passaic today. 

What’s your favorite music to listen to on the beach?

Jose: Reggaeton!

Whole group: Salsa and reggaeton! 

What are you drinking today?

Jose: Rum! I love rum, Brugal, papi!

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