Cold, Crisp and Not Soda

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).

Gentian, known for its blue color and delicate flavor.

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.

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15 thoughts on “Cold, Crisp and Not Soda

  1. Ah, I see you are turning to our (MY!!) Third World!! Angostura bitters is made in Trinidad, a (somewhat) neighboring island to Jamaica, my home. I use bitters to season all kinds of things.. smoothies made with fruit and yoghurt, fish, etc. and the classic british navy drink, pink gin!! great stuff!!

  2. YOU ARE MY HERO! I’m having one of those “why didn’t I think of that” moments. I love bitters. (Former bartender) I drink WAY too much soda–and diet soda, at that. I know…gross. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Thank you. My body thanks you.
    With Aloha…

  3. If you get your typical number of comments, there should be a huge variety of suggestions to add to yours. I’ve never had Bitters, but I’d like to try it.

    I’ve been drinking coconut water – refreshing, a taste not for everyone, especially unsweetened – but hard to find except with sweeteners. It’s out there — just have to be persistent in searching…

  4. Pellegrino over ice with a splash of lime is also quite refreshing and calorie free! I can’t wait to try your concoction however. Thanks!

  5. Other things that work well in hot weather are fresh watermelon and cucumber juice. You can use your ordinary blender but if you have juice extractor use that as that way you get a smoother juice. Peel the cucumbers, by the way, especially if you use the blender. Boy, they are good! But make them fresh, don’t save time and make a jug-full. The taste won’t keep. And refrigerate the fruits first. Cucumber is a great snack for hot days too! Something to chew on with a lot of water and only a few calories.

    • I love cucumber with salt, and we often have cucumber salad with dinner, and I love both versions. But the idea of drinking the juice or mixing it with watermelon is one I have no desire to try. I know a lot of people who swear by it, and a few restaurants bring water with cucumber slices in it. I can’t drink it. It triggers some weird memory. But that’s just me, and I think the idea will make a lot of my readers smile and head for the blender. I think it might be fun to freeze some of the juice, and put it in the next drink to keep it cold (we need that in the desert), and adding a small splash of Cointreau would be nice. . . but of course, there goes the low-calorie idea!

      • That is a good idea: watermelon ice cubes! I’ll have to try it sometime. My mom used to make a kind of a kids’ punch for birthday parties and such: orange juice, sprite and mineral water plus frozen strawberries for ice cubes.

        I know what you mean with that cucumber juice weirdness. I can’t eat goat cheese. To me its taste reminds too much the stink of fat being burned in a fire. My grandpa used grow minks for fur and they used to burn the fat that got scraped off the pelts during the curing. Yuck!

        • It’s so funny how the taste (which is really the smell of something) can trigger such strong emotions. I don’t understand at all how come I can love cucumbers, but hate the idea of drinking cucumber flavored water–I think it has to do with a few perfumes that I don’t like that have calone–the molecule that smells like certain melons or cucumbers– in it. I know a lot of people that don’t like goat cheese because it smells too much like goat pens. Or goats. Or they don’t like the texture. There’s probably a whole blog post in smells and memory links. I’ve done the watermelon ice cubes (watermelon daiquiris are delicious) and they work fabulously well. I’ve even used them in smoothies.

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