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Photo: Thinkstock
(Thinkstock)

The thirst-quenchers

Joel Harrison on the perfect cocktails to quench your thirst after a long day

My legs hurt. My arms hurt. There are parts of me I didn’t know existed that hurt. Why? Because I’m trying to get in shape, a process that involves lifting things, pulling things and pushing things (mainly myself).

I wouldn’t say I was unfit; I just lead a lifestyle that finds me away for long periods of time, unable to exercise. Take the next month of so: I have a weeklong trip to Cuba to visit the Havana Club rum distillery. Then, the day I land back in London, I have to jump in my car and head to France for a wine tasting.

Once that is over, I’ll be heading out to Geneva for a day trip before flying directly to Scotland for three days and then on to Berlin. When I finally get back home, I have a TV appearance to prepare for, on the BBC, to talk about taxation on spirits. Eventually, sometime in mid-March, I will get some time to myself.

Now don’t get me wrong... I’m not moaning. Far from it! The trips are all exciting, educational and (hopefully) entertaining. But equally they don’t leave much room for exercise. In fact, any form of healthy living tends to go right out of the window when I’m away for long periods of time.

This makes my time at home even more important. It becomes not just a time to catch up on work, writing and other meaningful things, but also to eat properly, sleep in my own bed and, at last, do some exercise.

The result of this on/off training regime is that my body doesn’t really enjoy it when I try and take it from "zero to hero" in just a few days. And I’m hurting.

In fact, the only muscle in me that isn’t aching is my tongue. This being the only really active part of me, coupled with an increased thirst from all the exercise, means that after a hard day working out, on top of the stacks of paperwork in my office, I’m ready to imbibe something totally refreshing.

To satisfy my thirst, it would be super easy to crack open a bottle of chilled white wine and simply pour a large glass, maybe add a block of ice or two, and sit back and enjoy. But that is far too easy and not quite refreshing enough in my book.

No, Sir! I’m after a selection of easy-to-make cocktails that will take a sledgehammer to my thirst. And guess what? I’ve found just the two.

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A gimlet is a perfect mixture of lime and gin. Photo: Getty Images

Firstly, take a glass (something like a champagne coupe will do) and fill it with ice and water to chill down. Then simply take a handful of limes and squeeze them to release as much juice as possible. So this isn’t too powerful, I’d use two-three limes.

Once you have your lime juice, add three times as much gin as you have lime juice (I like to use Beefeater here) and a dash of sugar syrup, which you can make easily at home by mixing one part water with two parts sugar until dissolved. If you wish, you can add some ice at this stage and stir the mixture down if you find it a little too strong on the alcohol front. This will both chill and dilute your drink, making it even more refreshing.

Now empty out your now very cold glass and strain your mixture in to it. You may wish to garish with some lime peel, or simply leave well alone.

And there you have it: the Gimlet, a perfect mixture of lime and gin, chilled down to delicious perfection.

The second drink I like to make is one that is almost always associated with the 1990s: the Cosmopolitan.

The Cosmo is almost always associated with the 1990s. Photo: Getty Images
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The Cosmo is almost always associated with the 1990s. Photo: Getty Images

To make a simple Cosmo my way, prepare a glass as above, with ice and water. Then take the juice of two limes and add double the same amount you have of cranberry juice. Once you have these two in a mixing vessel, add a dash of angostura bitters and a tiny dash of sugar syrup. Stir.

Once well mixed, add in as much vodka as you have mixture and stir again. My choice of vodka here is Ciroc, which is distilled from grapes. There is a hidden smoothness to Ciroc that works brilliantly with this cocktail, and if you can find the “citron" version, use that as a preference. Add ice; stir again. Empty the now cold glass and strain in to your glass. Consume!

These two cocktails are just simply a delight to make and are about as thirst-quenching as they come. Have a go, but not immediately after exercise... Give yourself a few hours’ recovery with a bottle of water first, but please don’t tell anyone if you catch me drinking a Gimlet while still in my running gear.

Joel Harrison is a drinks writer and consultant and co-founder of the website Caskstrength.net.

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