Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How about a cool drink?

I don't need to remind you that it's still hot outside. It's summer. It's supposed to be hot, although not quite this hot yet. But it's not unusual to see triple-digit temperatures in the summer, and because of that we've learned the best ways to cool off. Besides looking for an air-conditioner or a swimming pool, most of those ways revolved around finding something cold to drink.

Water is the typical choice these days. Stay hydrated. We drank water back a few decades ago, but we didn't pay a buck and a half for a small bottle of it. For fun, try to imagine your grandfather being asked to pay any amount of money for a bottle of water. Go ahead. Is your grandfather slamming his hands on the counter and yelling words we can't print too? Yeah, kind of funny, isn't it? Anyway, if you're going to pay money for something cool to drink, why not try something with flavor? Lemonade? Iced tea?

Personally, I still have a soft spot for Kool-Aid. Even the "off-brand" versions made for some good cool refreshment. I will note that the best Kool-Aid flavor is black cherry. Sure most of the other flavors are good (except for blue stuff), but black cherry is the Cadillac of Kool-Aid flavors.
In spite of common wisdom, I drink a lot of carbonated sodas ('pop' to us real Americans). But these things supposedly make you more thirsty. So you can look for some alternative. When I was a kid, I remember sometimes getting a cold bottle of Choc-ola from the vending machine. If you are unfamiliar with Choc-ola (or it's cousin Yoo-hoo), it is an imitation of chocolate milk. It was fantastic to seven-year-old tastebuds. And I wasn't the only one who thought so. All us kids were into Choc-ola for cool refreshment. Years later, as high school students, two friends and I were on a trip with our baseball team somewhere around Cincinnati. We stopped at a gas station that sold Choc-ola! We were ecstatic! It had been close to a decade (half our lives) since we had downed a cold Choc-ola! The three of us each purchased a frosty bottle and took it outside. Once they were open, we stood facing each other, gripping our glass bottles of nostalgic goodness. At the nod of a head, we all tipped back our heads and took a gulp. Approximately 1.5 seconds later, all three of us turned away from each other and spit the mouthful on the asphalt parking lot! It was not the chocolately good drink of our childhood. It was some imitation milk product with chocolate flavoring. So not every option is a good option.

My kids have grown up with sports drinks like Gatorade. Playing sports almost requires commitment to Gatorade. For years, my boys would emerge from the dugout between innings, look my direction, and tip an imaginary drink to his lips twice. This of course is the international sign for "I'm very thirsty, Father. Please go purchase a sports beverage for me so that my thirst might be quenched. Oh, and make it the blue kind."

Ice cream drinks are good for cooling off. Even the ones with coffee in them. However, coffee should never be truly classified as a drink consumed while cold, so I'm taking them right out of the discussion. Still shakes and sodas and root beer floats and the like can really hit the hot spot on a sweltering day. But the best coolant and thirst quencher is a slush. A Hawaiian ice is pretty much in the same category -- you're drinking ice! You can test me on this one. A slush will cool you faster than any other drink. But drink it slowly or you'll be holding your head in pain for about an hour, and that's no better than simply sweating through the heat.

So best of luck cooling off this weekend. And remember my advice: Don't pay for water, black cherry is the best Kool-Aid, Choc-ola is not as good as you remember, and don't down your slush too quickly. Now drink responsibly.

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