Supercoolers by Ingrid Casson
Ready-mixed refreshers are light, frivolous and as popular as beer (but not for drivers). By Ingrid Casson
Yeasty, sherbety and up-yer-nose fragrant, ginger beer is a sparkling taste of childhood, calling up memories of balmy days, bare feet and cooling off under the sprinkler. (Or, to some of us, fermenting bottles exploding in the larder, and mum accidentally getting the kids drunk with an over-zealous batch). The ginger can also help with nausea.
Try:Make your own, or try Crabbie's Ginger Beer flavoured spirit cooler, R55 for a six-pack.
Destination:Endless stretches of sun-baked Karoo.
Wet and frosty, beer will always be a favourite to beat the heat. Which makes a shandy a welcome - and an acceptably manly - upgrade from a straight-up cold one. There's something about the maltiness of beer mingling with sweet lemonade that makes the heart sing on a hot day. And lower alcohol means longer afternoons.
Try:Club Shandy, R47.90 for a six-pack.
Padkos:Fish and chips with lime mayo.
Destination:Sand-covered feet at Paternoster.
Cider isn't just for geezers in Plymouth. Usually made from apple juice, ciders vary wildly in sweetness, alcohol and complexity. Swedish Rekorderlig apple cider (made with spring water) is pale, dry and flavoured with 20% juice (berries, pear or strawberry-lime).
Try: Rekorderlig apple cider, R14 a bottle.
Destination:Hiking through Elgin fynbos.
SPARKLING GRAPE WINE
It's been around for two decades and Bernini is still the Marilyn Monroe of local coolers. Blonde and charming, this boozy grape juice tastes champagne-y but its gentle fizz gives it surprising finesse. Its light sweetness makes it a match for spicy foods.
Try:Sparkling Bernini Classic Grape, R47.95 for a six-pack.
Padkos: Bunny chow.
Destination:A day of cricket at Kingsmead in Durban.
Coolers are often laced with cheap spirits, but Vawter is for grown-ups. Sparkling spring water from the Franschhoek mountains plus premium vodka and a splash of flavour makes it less calorific than other coolers, and more tangy than sweet. We like the energising one with natural ginseng and guarana to pull us past the 2am slump.
Try:Vawter Vortex Energy, R49.95 for a six-pack.
Destination:Late night out in Braamfontein.
The granddaddy of all coolers, wine spritzers were all 1980s St Tropez, shiny white boats and slim-cut cigarettes: not much more than cold candy water. But newer examples are less sweet with more body and clout, such as jimmijagga spritzers, with dashes of lemon, melon or plum for added complexity.
Try:KWV jimmijagga, R24 from Gauteng bars and restaurants (available in Cape Town and Durban in January 2012).
Destination:Under an oak tree in Stellenbosch.