The virgin diaries: Cold drinks with no booze but plenty of spirit


Iced drinking chocolate @ Black Mountain Chocolate (W-S)

It’s chocolate, in drinking form.
It’s chocolate, in drinking form.

The use of chocolate as a panacea is well documented — a handful of M&Ms can often do what a handful of Xanax cannot — but as a general rule, chocolate does not do well in the summer heat. How many of us have had to lick the wrapper of a chocolate bar left to melt in a purse or car?

But the salubrious properties of chocolate can also be harnessed in a drink from Black Mountain Chocolate that comes in three varieties: ginger nutmeg, cinnamon cayenne and straight-up dark.

The dark is the thing for me: a velvety elixir that tastes sort of like a high-end Yoo-hoo, only significantly less sweet and exponentially more dense, with dark chocolate notes and a pleasant froth.

The addition of cinnamon and pepper is a more traditional South American take on the fruit of the cocoa tree, and the heat of the drink can actually give some respite from the summer swelter — something to do with sweat, I think.

As summer cools into fall, the ginger nutmeg, served hot, might do the trick on a balmy evening.

And all of them are able to take some of the sting out of life’s little disappointments.

— BC

Thai iced sweet-tea @ Pho Hien Vuong (GSO)

Sweet tea, Thai style.
Sweet tea, Thai style.

Thai iced tea presents a great juxtaposition between creaminess and some of the strongest-steeped Southern tea imaginable. Thai iced tea is Ceylon tea topped off with whole milk and sugar. There’s a soft sweetness alongside the baking-spice strength. You can find it at Pho Hien Vuong.

— AH

Brazilian limeade @ Krankies Coffee (W-S)

Brazilian limeade is one of three drinks on Krankies Coffee’s spring specials menu — along with Jamaican hibiscus tea and lemonade — and as far as I’m concerned it’s welcome to hang around through the duration of this punishing summer.

The barista helpfully offered to answer any questions as a couple of us from a mass meeting about racism and privilege milled around looking confused. Something about lime — its taste slightly more subtle and concise than its fairer cousin — is more appealing than lemon, and when the barista said that it had a hint of coconut I was sold.

Coconut milk provides a creaminess to counterbalance the acidity of lime juice.
Coconut milk provides a creaminess to counterbalance the acidity of lime juice.

Fresh squeezed and poured over ice in a 16-ounce cup, this refreshing drink strikes all the right notes for a sweltering summer evening. Neither especially tangy nor overly sweet, the drink has a clean finish that beguiles someone like me who subsists on store-bought Arnold Palmers (half-lemonade, half sweet tea) and full-on lemonade in the summer. I can down two or three glasses of those mass-produced drinks and still find myself thirsty. In contrast, the handcrafted Brazilian limeade at Krankies rewards slow sipping and delivers a satisfying conclusion. The secret weapon of this drink is the coconut, which complements the acidity of the lime with a creamy texture, while topping the drink with a light froth.

— JG

Durian bubble tea @ Banh Mi Saigon (GSO)

Bubble tea is on the back end of its meteoric rise, but it’s still pretty delicious.
Bubble tea is on the back end of its meteoric rise, but it’s still pretty delicious.

If you’re looking to try bubble tea, a milkshake-like beverage made with tapioca pods, look no further than Greensboro’s Banh Mi Saigon Sandwiches and Bakery. They offer 15 flavors, from their best-selling papaya to normal selections such as strawberry and green apple. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the durian bubble tea — while the texture and strong taste of the controversial “king of fruits” may weird some out, complex flavors of custard and cinnamon will sate curious taste buds.

— AH

Sujeonggwa @ Seoul Garden (GSO)

At Seoul Garden, it usually comes at the end of your meal like a little bowl of dessert. Sujeonggwa is basically a cinnamon slushie, very sweet but refreshing after eating spicy or greasy food. Good for quenching thirst and for a sweet tooth, this traditional Korean fruit punch is made of persimmon, cinnamon, ginger and honey or brown sugar is usually served cold as a dessert.

— SM

Elderflower-mint spritzer @ Camino Bakery (W-S)

Floral, with hints of  citrus and bite from the mint, Camino’s quencher is a slow sipper.
Floral, with hints of
citrus and bite from the mint, Camino’s quencher is a slow sipper.

Don’t get me wrong: I love coffee — hot, cold, foamy, dense, whatever. I drink it all day long.

But there comes a point where a human being has had enough coffee for the day; I know I’m there when my sweat starts to smell like espresso. When that moment arrives, Camino’s elderflower spritzer is the perfect thing. It’s light, just a little bit sweet and with floral overtones from elderflower, itself a natural anti-inflammatory and antiseptic agent. The bits of muddled mint leaf suspended in the drink pick up on the lime juice in a way that’s completely wonderful. It’s refreshing and different, and doesn’t seem to make my legs jitter even a little bit.

— BC