It is fair to say that I do like the odd glass of something bubbly or two, or three… But summer makes me thirsty for other popular drinks synonymous with my 3 hometowns. For me, particular drinks are associated with summer memories. The Food Network came up with a list of their best 50 summer drinks, offering recipes for sodas, shakes and cocktails but here are my top pickings for this summer. Cheers!
Summer in London makes me think of iconic sporting events such as the tennis at Wimbledon, cricket at Lords, or horseracing at Ascot. All of these events are further enhanced, and best enjoyed, with a refreshing glass of Pimm’s – a drink almost as traditional as the very British cup of tea.
James Pimm invented this gin-based drink in the 1840’s. Billed as an aid to digestion, the mixture of gin, quinine, and a secret selection of herbs, served in small tankards, became known as the Pimm’s No1 Cup.
Although the company has expanded their range to include other spirits such as Scotch in No 2 cup, Brandy in No 3 Cup, Rum in No 4 Cup, Rye in No 5 Cup, and Vodka in No 6 Cup, the original gin based drink is the one that everyone associates with the name Pimm’s, and is by far and away their best seller.
While there are various ways to mix your Pimm’s, I must say the classic version is my favorite. In a large decanter mix one part Pimm’s with 2 parts lemonade then add a whole bunch of sliced fruit – oranges, lemon, apple, cucumber, and top off with a spring of mint to complement the taste but also to enhance the visuals.
The BBC Good Food Channel suggests adding strawberries to their Pimm’s recipe.
The Chow.com site suggests another popular version, replacing the lemonade with ginger ale to give it even more zing.
The British newspaper the Daily Telegraph chimes in with their suggestion of adding cranberry juice.
Now I could have gone boring on you and told you the virtues of iced tea, which is delicious and something that I had never tasted until moving to this city, but really… Or I could have taken the route of the Houston Press and extolled the virtues of one of their top five drinks but for me, summer in Houston is all about the frozen margarita. Thankfully the folks at Houston Eater.com agree and have listed their top 16 Houston locations to sample this tasty treat.
While traditionalists might prefer their margaritas on the rocks, I love the head freezing qualities of the frozen version. The main ingredient when making a margarita is tequila, add to this a little triple sec and lime or lemon juice and blend. Personally I love the rim of my glass dipped in salt as I think it adds that finishing touch. Adding fruit flavors and experimenting with the various qualities of tequila on offer in Houston can make this drink taste quite different so I will continue my research until I find my all time favorite.
The history of this drink seems to be a little fuzzy, with a few contenders claiming the prize. In 1938 Carlos Herrera created a drink in his restaurant in Tijuana for his client who was allergic to all forms of hard alcohol other than tequila. In 1948, Dallas socialite Margarita Sames clams she invented the drink while on vacation in Acapulco and passed the recipe to her friend, Tommy Hilton, who added the drink to his hotel menu. However, in 1945 an importer of Jose Cuervo in the US had the advertising tagline “Margarita; its more than a girls name” so I guess the jury is still out on that one.
When I think of margarita the brand Patron springs to mind. Their beautiful website tells the story of their history and lists some delicious recipes
The one downside of a margarita for me is the fact that I know they are packed full of calories so I was happy to find this selection of recopies from the Cooking Light website.
The Food Networks mango recipe offered by the Pioneer Woman sounds delightful.
This city proved a little harder to decide on just one drink. Perhaps I just need to spend a little more time or conduct a bit more research. While living in India I have been introduced to local wines produced by three Indian vineyards; Sula, Grover, and Fratelli. While I cannot say the wines they produce are quite as tasty as my favorite New Zealand or Oregon Pinots, they are certainly growing on me, especially the Sula sparkling.
Another drink I have enjoyed in Mumbai was served to me at the famous Harbor Bar at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. The cocktail called the Harbour Bar 1933 comes with quite an elaborate story and show as the waiter blends the drink and sets it on fire at your table. If you would like to know more about this story then please read this post I wrote a while back.
While researching this article I asked the butlers at the Taj Lands End hotel for their ideas of famous Indian summer drinks and they all agreed that the Cucumber cooler was their choice for the most popular summer offering. The refreshing taste of cucumber and mint goes well with the hot and humid summer, and the lack of alcohol makes this selection a great option for the kiddos. When I looked up the recipe I was a little alarmed to see quite so much sugar added, but I’m sure you could substitute an artificial sweetener if you wanted to make a less calorific version of this drink.
Manjula’s Kitchen has a variety of Indian vegetarian recipes including a Cucumber Cooler.
You can always rely on Buzzfeed to have an interesting selection and here is their “12 Super Easy Desi Cocktails You Should Try This Weekend” list.
The Yummly website has a great selection of Indian cocktails taken from a variety of bloggers.
Summer is a great time to enjoy a refreshing cocktail to go and enjoy yourself.
Cheers my friends,