Iced drinking chocolate @ Black Mountain Chocolate (W-S)
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.
Thai iced sweet-tea @ Pho Hien Vuong (GSO)
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.
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.
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.
Durian bubble tea @ Banh Mi Saigon (GSO)
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.
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.
Elderflower-mint spritzer @ Camino Bakery (W-S)
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.