Know when you pull out a nice cold can of soda / pop / cola from the fridge and there’s this cool layer of condensation forming on the can? Now imagine the condensation, covering the entire can, getting pretty wet, cool to the touch, and slippery, so slippery.. This is what summertime is like in the Middle East, except it’s so hot that there’s no coolness to the condensation forming on your skin. Instead, it’s hot humid sweat that forces your clothes to stick to your body, that makes you want to peel your skin off and release the steam that’s making your blood bubble and boil. It’s this unbearable heat that you don’t just think about cooking an egg on the road, no you think about making an omelet, frying up some bacon, and even some toast.. Nothing is as futile as wiping the sweat off your brow in our climate this time of year, because just as soon as you wipe, there’s more sweat dripping down. You’ll start to discover new things about your body, like, “wow! I didn’t know I could sweat from my ear lobes, wow, summertime really teaches you new things about your body…”
Yes, summer is here: there are no more flirtations with semi cool days, there are no more clouds in the sky to protect us, and there is certainly no more room for anything long sleeve. But the sea is still pleasant, it’s not cool, or chilly, it’s perfect room temperature water, which I don’t have to tell you is a lot better than swimming in soup (if you’ve ever gone swimming in July/august you know what I mean).
In this heat, there are only a couple of things that actually keep us cool in this weather. You can either live the next few months in linen (always a good idea) or you can rehydrate/dehydrate yourself with some nice cold refreshing beverages. When it’s really khot outside, this is what I like to drink…
1. Gin and Tonic – The history of this drink dates back to the east India tea company, which introduced the glass of something to its troops stationed in the heat of Asia. Tonic contains quinine (a crystalline alkaloid that acts as an anti-inflammatory, pain reliever and anti-malarial). Because tonic was so bitter at the time, the troops could only knock it back if gin was added to it. the magic mix: In a tumbler filled with ice, mix, three parts tonic to one part gin, add a squeeze of lime and toss the wedge in, stir and enjoy. I know a lot of people that don’t really like g&t, but I find people just don’t drink it in the right environment, try it this summer and you’ll see what I mean. The combination of the ice, the refreshing tonic, and a healthy dose of gin makes the whole concoction flow down your throat so easily. I like to keep the lime wedges in my glass, helps me keep track of how many drinks I’ve had... G&T, I love thee..
2. Mojito – (pronounced moheeto if you didn’t already know) now I admit, I do not appreciate Bacardi taking advantage of a resurrected drink and beating it senseless with advertisements. But if a place makes a good mojito, well then there’s nothing better than that. Drafted in from Cuba, the Mojito is essentially made from: rum, mint, limes, sugar, and soda water. The trick is to muddle (with a pestle) the mint leaves sugar and limes in a glass, add the rum and then top off with the soda water and some mint or lime garnish. #1 you must use decent rum, #2 the muddling releases the flavors and reaffirms your expert mixology whether you have it or not, #3 The sugar you use is also very important, cane sugar works best. Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson drank Mojitos (separately, although I’m sure they would have been the best of friends) until the sun came up and then set again.. we even came up with a song, “Mo. Mo. Mo. MoMo… MOJITO”
3. Sangria – coming from the Spanish word (derived from latin), sangre or blood, is a refreshing summer drink that is easily enjoyed by everyone. I learned to make from uncle hamad who learned it from his friend, an Argie dip living in Madrid – so the recipe does have a little history, which is always cool. Although the recipe was passed down in confidence, I think it’s time to share this wealth of information; sangria is for communal enjoyment, you can’t all enjoy it if someone’s hiding the recipe. So here we go: regular table wine, cointreau (orange liquer), either vodka/brandy/cognac (depending on what you have), sliced fruit (apples, oranges, pears), juice (apple or orange), sprite, and sugar. Slice up the fruit, and pour the wine, then add a good measure or two of cointreau and then the other liquor you’ve got. Pour some juice into the mix, add a spoon of sugar, and then add the sprite. Now people will tell you to save the sprite till the end because of the carbonation, I say hogwash, add it and make sure the taste all works together. Let it chill in the fridge and then serve it over some ice. Through many pitchers, I’ve learned that no one really enjoys a lethal and strong sangria; but a subtle easy to drink sangria – that’s what gets people in the mood.
4. Cerveza – end of the day, there’s very little that can come between you and a cold cerveza on a hot day. There is nothing more refreshing than shoving your hand in a bucket of ice or cooler to pull out a cold can of brew. And then when you fish out the beer, you shake off the excess cold water and crack it open. I think the most beautiful image is the beach, a bucket with ice, and a couple of beers resting in that bucket, blissfully blissful..
Yeah so it is an alcohol related post. Just helping you decide what you should consider drinking this cruel summer. Kampai..