My yardstick for a refreshing drink is whether you would drink it while playing tennis. Even though tennis is a game I haven’t played since I was 16, the courtside drink that comes to mind always contained some smashed fruit with a high water content. Pimm’s No. 1 Cup always nailed the brief when combined with lemonade or dry ginger ale in a glass brimming with cucumber, strawberry, watermelon and mint. It’s one of those drinks that could either be a daytime refresher or a night starter with the addition of clear spirits.
It’s easy to have this style of drink on hand by creating what is essentially a cordial. These bases are very easy to make and live quite well in the refrigerator for weeks. I will commonly base each one on a fruit and then experiment with different botanicals such as rose geranium, elderflower, lemon leaves, rosemary, fig leaves, pepper berries or bay leaves. Most of these botanicals can be found around your neighbourhood. I have a particular dislike of the description “foraging”, which sounds to me like something that can only be practised if you are born with a snout. I prefer the term “not paying”. Not paying does move into a legal grey area according to fence lines et cetera, but generally my main research is focused on plant identification and assessing whether the plants have been sprayed with pesticides. A few blogs and apps actually show where public fruit trees are growing.
To serve these drinks, muddle the mixture prior to pouring it into glasses over ice. My ratios are usually one part gin, one part soda, two parts cordial. Add fresh cut fruit if desired.