Frying-pan-hot late summer days make the words “gin-and-tonic” seem perfect. But I’m not a liquor lover. The calories add up too fast, and I’d rather splurge my calories on chocolate.
Gone are the days I’d start off with a Diet Coke at breakfast–althought the caffeine jolt and brain freeze did wake me up fast. Iced coffee and tea are great, but I can drink only so much tannin without wondering if my gut is going to be used to make a Birkin. So I began to explore drinks that I can sip, gulp, quaff, and chug cold and in quantity without packing on calories and without the cardboardy, acidy taste I get from tubed drink mixes.
So I tried something so simple, so easy, I can’t believe how good it is. Take a glass, put in as much ice as you love, and then add 3-5 drops Angostura Bitters. Fill with club soda or selzer. It’s a perfect drink. Clean, crisp, refreshing, bubbly, and a great herbal taste that’s interesting but not overwhelming. Goes with sushi as well at with PBJs. (I’m not a fan of milk with PBJs. Suit yourself).
Angostura Bitters are a bar staple. They aren’t really bitter, the word is derived from aromatic concoctions that contain gentian–a flowering herb that is used in perfumes. It’s also been used as a malaria cure and insect repellent. Versatile plant. Bright blue flowers. Gentian is bitter, but there is a lot more than gentian in bitters–a mix of aromatic herbs that is lovely in smell and dark brown in color.
I originally used the bitters for tea-staining papers, because it worked faster and was darker than tea, and I loved the smell. I swear, if they made this substance as a fragrance, I’d wear it every day.
But until then, I’ll use a few drops over fresh strawberries and in my soda-and-bitters. It’s an inexpensive joy that pays off in big ways.
—Quinn McDonald is counting the days until she no longer drinks a gallon of liquid a day just to keep up with sweating. She no longer remembers a time when the nape of her neck wasn’t wet 24 hours a day.