Heather D ponders the appeal of quintessential summer drinks.
But once we've got our obligatory glass of Pimm's out of the way, it's time to ponder which drinks offer just the right note of refreshment and a little celebration of summer.
The gin: whatever I say here, I'm going to get into trouble, as people can develop fierce loyalties which are not to be challenged. I will simply offer my own opinion, for what it's worth, make of it what you will.
Tanqueray (£20.49 recommended retail price) is,for me, the archetypal London Dry Gin: dry, with bright, citrus and herbal-medicinal layers of flavour which evolve and linger on the palate.
The water used to make any spirit is going to have an influence on its flavour. You only have to try a cup of tea in another part of the country to know that water is not really neutral at all and can be surprisingly variable in flavour. If you would like to explore the influence of water on gin, then look for a bottle of Plymouth Gin, made in, yes, Plymouth using the soft water of Dartmoor. This results in a softer, smoother gin than the London Dry – but importantly Plymouth (£17 recommended retail price) is also a higher strength spirit, allowing the seven botanicals used to shine.
But man cannot live by gin alone. Or probably shouldn't. If you tire of the grassy, citrussy kick of the G&T, who are the new pretenders, hoping to become the hit summer drink of 2011?
Croft Pink Port is a pretender to the summertime drinking crown. Port is making a play for a new, younger (not to say female) market rather than aged, pass the port to the right gentlemen's club frequenting, cigar-smoking oldies. The ladies have shown their fondness for all things pink, so why not a pink port?
They have cleverly overcome the potential problem of any fortified wine, which is naturally high in alcohol, by suggesting the use of port as a mixer. Why not try whipping up one of these at home?
Bubbles & Pink