England v. USA: what to drink

So the World Cup of Soccer is on right now and if you didn’t know, this afternoon England is playing the United States of America. The question is, what to drink as you watch the game between two teams most folk living outside each nation generally love to hate. It’s hard to know who to root for. England: perpetual losers, but insufferable winners. I’m a little soft on them, though. Americans: too used to winning everything but soccer. Wouldn’t it be nice for them to get a bloody nose? Yet, they are outsiders. Rats! Two lovable villains.

Beer is always a standby drink in both nations, so by all means, drink beer, but if you have any imagination you’ll try a little summery cocktail or two.

Team USA: the Americano.

Like soccer, not a drink invented or native to America, but named after American tourists who came to Milan at the turn of the last century and took a shine to this drink.

One part Campari, two parts Vermouth, ice, sparkling water, slice of orange.

This is currently my favourite summer drink. I love the bitter Campari, smoothed out by sweet vermouth and the orange. Totally refreshing.

Team England: Ginger wine, the good mixer.

The standard English summer classic is a Pimms cup, a delicious drink made for garden parties more than football matches. That involves fizzy lemonade or ginger ale, Pimms with fruit and cucumbers thrown in. Instead, I bought a bottle of Hutchison’s Ginger Wine. Sweet, light and – yes – gingery like the angry lid of former England player Paul Scholes or Simon Pegg (the actor, who has never to my knowledge played for an English football team).

There’s lots to do with Ginger Wine. A Whisky Mac is scotch and ginger wine. Great for a chilly spring day, so add some ice, lemon peel and soda for the summer. Ginger wine, rum and ginger ale is a good drink, too. Maybe some Hutchisons added to lager to make a more alcoholic shandy? Or, plainly with some soda water and fruit juice, I was thinking rhubarb juice (stewed then strained, please). Maybe try Kingsley Amis’ MacCossack: vodka and ginger wine. A little brutal, like a cheap tackle from behind, but that’s nothing One haven’t seen happen in a London park any time of year.

The key to a match up with Ginger wine is: it’s a good mixer. Ginger wine improves just about everything, including your belief that England can win the cup. So let’s get this game going!