Beating the summertime heat by downing a frosty drink

June 16, 1999|By Rob Kasper

WHEN THE SUMMER weather turns nasty, I seek comfort in cold beverages.

There are a handful of alcoholic beverages that I consider counter agents to hot weather. Among them are bottles of cold beer and gin rickeys -- soothing concoctions made with a shot of gin, juice of half a lime, a large dose of ice cubes and club soda. But since these potations pack a wallop, I wait until the end of the day to administer them.

For midday relief, I seek something nonalcoholic that will make me shiver. On a recent sizzling afternoon, I opened the family refrigerator and considered the array of chilly countermeasures to the day's heat.

There was water. Like many in modern America, our refrigerator has become a reservoir. It used to be that if you wanted a drink of water you turned on the tap. But now the properly hydrated home seems to have an ample supply either of bottled spring water or large jugs of filtered water sitting in the fridge.

We have gone the filtered-jug route. A friend gave us a water container roughly the size of Lake Roland. I was skeptical at first. I thought water was water. But now I think the filtered water tastes better, or at least does not taste as metallic as the water that comes straight from the faucet.

The trouble with drinking water, even water that has been filtered or has bubbled up from an ancient spring, is that it is not a very satisfying experience. Downing a glass of water is a medicinal act, something you do to cleanse your innards, or to keep from doing something rash, like spooning down an couple of pints of ice cream. There is nothing indulgent about sipping water, even if you do it in dim candlelight.

On the other end of the pleasure scale, there is the milkshake option. The other day that was possible. There was milk and vanilla ice cream in the fridge and a bottle of vanilla extract (a drop transforms a normal milkshake) in the pantry.

But I didn't have a companion. No one else was home. I believe making a milkshake is a social act, an invitation for many members of a household to indulge in creamy pleasure. And then to help in the cleanup. I passed on making a solo shake.

Next, I eyed the bottles of sports drinks cooling in the fridge. They merited only brief consideration. I am not a sports-drink drinker. The sports-drink drinkers in our family, and I think in the nation, are teen-agers.

I suppose I could learn to tolerate the flavor of the sports drinks and their faint soapy aftertaste -- but I can't stand the colors. Call me a fogey, but I am reluctant to drink a beverage that looks like anti-freeze.

Then, I spotted some lemons in the fridge. I knew my quest for a satisfying cold beverage had ended. I was going to guzzle lemonade.

It would not be the frozen kind, which always ends up tasting more like sugar than lemons. It would be homemade. I would have to squeeze the lemons, but the work would be worth it. I would end up with a pitcher of a frosty, satisfying beverage, which came in a soothing shade.

Fresh Lemonade

Makes 1 1/2 quarts

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (5 to 6 lemons)

1/2 to 3/4 cup superfine sugar, to taste

1 cup crushed ice

4 cups water

Place all the ingredients in a blender, process until smooth. Serve over more ice.

-- From "The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook" by Ina Garten (Clarkson N. Potter, 1999)

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