Just a little word about mixing your drinks: don't

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TODAY we answer your questions about long, cool drinks for the summer months and how to make them . . .

How do I make long, cool drinks for the summer months?

You go out and buy a book called Long, Cool Drinks for the Summer Months and How to Mix Them.

Who is it by?

Many different people. There are more than 13,000 different books on the market with this title, or one very similar, and they are all by different people, some dead.

How can a dead person write a book about long, cool summer drinks for the summer months and how to make them?

They weren't dead when they wrote the book. They just wrote them a long time ago.

Under the same title?

They were called something slightly different then, like Summer Libations or Cups, Bowls and Punches, but they were basically the same book. You can now buy them either second-hand or reprinted.

Which one of these books is the best?

They are all exactly the same, so you get the cheapest.

How can they all be exactly the same?

Because there aren't many summer drinks and they all re- occur in every book.

Such as?

Bucks fizz, Pimms, kir, shandy, Pimms, bucks fizz . . .

Hold on, hold on, that's a lot of drinks there. Let's start with bucks fizz. How do you make that?

Bucks fizz is an unparalleled way of ruining good orange juice and good champagne in the same drink. There is no other drink recipe that does this anything like so well, or indeed at all.

So wouldn't it make sense to use a cheap sparkling white wine and tinned orange juice instead?

Yes. Of course, it would make even more sense not to make the drink. Any drink that benefits from being cheaply made shouldn't be made at all

Gosh, we are in a mood this morning, aren't we?

Yes. So would you be if you'd just read through a whole shelf of summer drink books, doing research for this column.

Have you really?

No, of course I haven't. I'm a journalist, not a detective, but I have tried all the drinks.

With what result?

I am now sloshed.

I mean, what are your findings?

I have discovered that there are only three kinds of mixed drink. First, there is the long drink, which is made by taking something strong and concentrated and diluting it with large quantities of something you wouldn't normally touch, like putting lemonade in Pimms, or Coca-Cola in rum, or tomato juice in vodka.

Number two?

Number two is the cocktail, which is almost invariably made out of something sweet, something sour and something strong.


One of the best cocktails ever devised, the Petite Fleur. This is equal parts of fresh grapefruit juice, Cointreau and white rum.

Sounds hunky-dory. Number three?

Number three is the half-and-half drink. It is always made by adding 50 per cent of something to 50 per cent of something else.

Like bucks fizz?

Indeed. Or Black Velvet, which is half-and-half champagne and Guinness, or shandy, which is half-lemonade and half- beer, or Snake Bite, which is cider and lager.

Are they nice?

Compared to cold tea and curdled milk, they are very nice.

I see. And there are no other kinds of drink?


Does no one ever invent new kinds of mixed summer drink?

Yes. The research departments of all drinks companies are incessantly trying to come up with new recipes so they can put them on those little booklets that are tagged around the neck of their bottled product.

What are these drinks like?

They are all horrible.

My, we are testy this morning, aren't we?

Yes, we are.

Well, maybe I'll just go out and buy a book called 'Long, Cool Summer Drinks'.

Why don't you just do that.

Government Health Warning: Testing of long, cool summer drinks may lead to moroseness, short temper and a tendency to clutch the head.