Your Ultimate (Sort Of) Guide To Summertime (Non-Alcoholic) Beverages

By Anne T. Donahue

Like you, I have no sense of time anymore. I’m not sure what day it is, I don’t care about the month, and the year is but a mystery to me. Which is why I’ve convinced myself on every sunny day that it’s “basically July.” And with that revelation, I’m choosing to offer my guide to summertime (non-alcoholic) drinks now. Mainly because I have to pick up a bunch today at the store, and if I don’t write down what I want or hate, I will return home with several cases of Mountain Dew. Which isn’t a dig, it’s just far too many cases.

Here we go.

Iced tea
Your life and your summer is garbage unless you celebrate the glory of low-stakes vaccination on the regular. Is there a superior brand or flavour? No, and raspberry. But you won’t reap the benefits of the greatest drink in the land unless you serve it chilled, on ice, and with enough lemons that drinking the full bottle can be justified as a source of vitamin C.

Which brings me to my next point: homemade iced tea is always a disappointment, so don’t even try.

Homemade iced tea
An absolute disappointment. Don’t even try.

Last year and also about a month ago, I found myself enamoured with lemonade because my life is empty and this is the type of joy I can handle and need. Of course, there are two types: the fountain sort, with zero pulp, and desperately needs to be watered down. (Medicinal and toothache-evoking. Truly an acquired taste.) And the type that’s so fresh that it’s teeming with pulp and will inevitably lead to a stomach ulcer.

Personally, I prefer the latter. Not just because I like to make myself miserable, but because I need boundaries and nothing provides them like nearly throwing up on a walk with my dad because I’d consumed about 16 pounds of lemons and/or limes. Also: scurvy! I refuse to have it. Just mix with sparkling water so it seems like you’re drinking this on purpose.

Sparkling water
I shouldn’t even have to include it because it’s basically a food group, but I will say that all sparkling water is perfect unless it tastes like watered-down cough syrup. SPARKLING WATER SHOULD NEVER TASTE LIKE ANYTHING OTHER THAN SPARKLING WATER. It’s like tea which is never, ever the equivalent to hot chocolate or anything outside of “this tastes like tea.” Stop tricking me into thinking I’m enjoying a treat.

Frozen juice from concentrate
It makes me sick that we left these behind in our youths like we were somehow better because we could enjoy cans of pop. (Everybody knows pop was a special treat until you could afford to buy a can of your own at school. Everybody!) Do you know what the best feeling in the world is? Neither do I, but I think opening one of those frozen cans is up there because it’s so unnecessarily difficult and as such makes me feel strong. Do I recommend a flavour? Fruit punch, obviously. (Also: Fruitopia, which I’m craving as I type.) But perhaps more specifically, I recommend eating it frozen out of the can while screaming “It’s summertime!” at passerby. I drank a full half-jug of mango punch yesterday, and my only regret was not drinking more.

Juice boxes
Who are these for? Children? Because even as a child I was like, “In what world is this supposed to quench my thirst?” The answer: no world. It’s two sips. And then a lot of waste as you drink 14 more. I once glorified juice boxes, but I blame burnout and trying desperately to find something that made me feel alive. You know what makes me feel alive now? Large bottles of fruit-centric liquid. Even if they’re absolutely a source of IBS.

I don’t care if pop is bad for you: I love it, and I love all types of flavours. Even Mountain Dew. Because I aspire to be as extreme as the old commercials.

In the SUMMER? Are you out of your MIND? Even eating ice cream can go terribly awry if mixed with movement, and I’m not afraid to admit it. I’m also not terrified to admit that I do enjoy a glass of chocolate milk as a lunchtime treat, but I’m even less terrified to declare that if you are a grown-up person chugging glasses of white milk like a demon, that is what you are. A demon. A glass of milk! Imagine seeing that! Imagine somebody not stopping for a second to take a break and evaluate the circumstances that brought them here! It’s chaos! It’s horrific! It’s also not the same as milkshakes. Milkshakes are perfect, and I’ll love them forever.

Not the same as “dairy” because I like to invent pointless rules. Never a bad call. Always a dream come to life. But stop with the “extra thick!”  milkshake nonsense because I will not have my eardrums burst while revelling in one of summer’s most delicious prizes. Amen.

Need a little more Anne? Read more from Anne T. Donahue right here!

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