The summer cocktail hour …

January 9, 2010

Well hello again, and happy new year to you all.

I am finally emerging from Christmas / New Year chaos and family visits galore alternating with some beachside lazing. But as of next week, being visitor (and fun-) free, it’s back to work with a vengeance. My resolutions are the usual – work harder, write more, drink less, ease up on the gluttony, you know the drill. Gotta get a book written this year if it kills me.

But it ain’t Monday yet, and here in Sydney it’s a stinker of a day, hot and humid. So I think it’s appropriate for us to think about weekend summer afternoon drinks, don’t you?

A few weeks before Christmas we had a little progressive do here, starting with drinks at my friend Mr Pimm’s around the corner. I haven’t had Pimm’s for years and years, so when he suggested it, I leapt at the idea. At his beautiful house we sat lawnside with Pimm’s and lemonade, plus a little plateful of matching retro canapes, the devil you know. It raised my memory of the first time I was introduced to Pimm’s No. 1 Cup many years ago, at a Gatsbyesque lawn party in the homestead garden of an otherwise droughtbaked farm at Nimmitabel outside Cooma, where I grew up. The garden of this party was large and elegant, with cool green lawns and enormous weeping willow trees, and we lounged on the grass while others played tennis. I was an unworldly young woman, to put it mildly (as I recall, my drink of choice at the time was gin and squash – eww), so I was tres impressed when my sophisticated friend Bridget handed me a tall glass of Pimm’s and dry ginger ale with  a curl of cucumber peel spiralled inside the glass. It was possibly the most refreshing thing I’d ever drunk. I still love it. The cucumber peel, I have discovered, is essential in cooling off the sweetness.

This holidays we’ve been indulging in my other favourite summer arvo drink, the Americano. Its stunning crimson colour and the slight bitterness of the Campari makes it a winner in my book – refreshing and zingy, with as much or as little kick as you like, depending on the amount of soda you add at the end (when Senor is mixing, for example, it’s best sit down time).

An Americano is simple – chuck into a glass equal parts Campari & sweet Vermouth, a few cubes of ice and a wedge of orange – and top up with as much soda water as you like. If you add a slug of gin, it’s a Negroni.

So there you have it – a Saturday arvo summer drink to quench your thirst and cool your brow.

Here’s to a fab 2010 for you all, filled with good food and fine experience. And what might be your favourite summer cooling drink?


  1. mmmmmm …sounds luscious…..but finding it difficult to imagine. We are currently snowed in here and mulled wine is my first choice…

  2. It’s bellini time around these parts. The long dry spell has given us an unexpected windfall – trees laden with fly free tropical peaches! Brilliant transformed into juice which transforms crappy sparkling chardonay into pleasure pop.

  3. Being a boring cow, I love a G & T, especially if you replace half the tonic with the lemon or lime juice (though that can wreak havoc with the old tooth enamel). I like em stiff but not too long. Oooh vicar!

  4. Not drinking at this time of day, but GnT with Stone Pine Bathurst dry gin – very yummy. Also need a suggestion so I can try my Belvedere Vodka carried from Poland by friend Em. The bottle is almost too pretty to crack open, so need a good reason. (You can get it here too)
    Also, I recall a sophisticated young woman’s drink of choice as brandy and dry…

  5. As another boring cow I love my gin as well. My daughter-in-law brings me a litre bottle of Bombay Sapphire from OS occasionally, and I can’t bear to put tonic with it. So only use mineral water with fresh lime and short like Steph. All this talk of drinking when I haven’t had a drink for 9 days !!

  6. Charlotte, you are truly a woman after my own heart. Nothing says summer to me like a dewy jug of Pimm’s, mint leaves jostling ice cubes, and Campari and soda is my all-time fave aperitif. And like the other girls, I do love a G & T. Thinking about when and where I developed these tastes, I realise I am a hopeless when-in-Rome drinker: Pimm’s during London summers, Campari and sodas over Venetian sunsets, G & Ts after an Indian wedding… very fond grog memories all!

    Happy New Year – so glad to have you back!

  7. […] word, and it’s not ‘food’ January 12, 2010 I am indebted to my friend Eileen for alerting me to this nugget of gold from The New Yorker’s Shouts & Murmurs: The […]

  8. I have a crush on Campari. With soda, ice, lime slice- and (preferably not when wearing white blouse)a nip of unsweetened cranberry juice. Time for one now in fact- Not only is the sun over the yard arm it’s melted it.

    My homeopath reckons Campari is good for the tum, since it and other herbal bitters work are kind to the liver – quite unlike other alcohol.

    I will have another one just for you Eileen. Well done.

  9. Well, what a lot of lushes you are. Right up my street. I too LOVE a G&T, of course. All that quinine, very good for a girl’s malaria risk. And now Jules telle us Campari is good for the digestion, the whole summer arvo cocktail is positively a health imperative!

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