Mention drinks and immediately alcoholic beverages spring to mind. Sure, some of the best drinks in England are indeed alcohol based but by no means all of them. What follows is a list, in no particular order, of what we believe to be the five best drinks in England:

1. A ‘nice cuppa’

Photo by Vanderdecken

Photo by Vanderdecken

This just had to make it onto the list! If there is one drink that is quintessentially English it is the cup of tea. But why should such a banal beverage make it on to a ’5 Best Drinks’ list? Simple, a cup of tea is so versatile. When you arrive home, tired after a day out or having had a hard day at work, it is a fantastic energiser. Mash a pot of tea, put your feet up while you drink it and within half an hour, you are as ‘right as rain’ again. On a hot day, nothing refreshes like a cup of tea. The first thing the police suggest when they arrive with bad news is that you sit down and have a ‘nice cuppa’ and, at the scene of a road accident (or other incident involving the emergency services), unless it is far from any houses, before long at least one person will arrive carrying a tray of steaming hot mugs of sweetened tea.

2. Real Ale

Real ale (or cask conditioned beer) is what a true English person would term ‘proper beer’ rather than the fizzy cold version known as keg beer. It has a much richer flavour and a subtlety of taste not found in the mass-produced beers. It is served from a hand pump rather than by pressurising a sealed barrel and is not overly chilled, indeed there are many aficionados of real ale who insist on letting theirs warm up to room temperature as it releases even more of the subtle smells and flavours. The true real ale enthusiast will insist on his or her pint being served flat, with a minimal head in order to benefit fully from the subtlety of this traditional English drink. There are hundreds of small breweries producing thousands of different real ales throughout England, many of which have amusing, risqué or bizarre names such as ‘Wobbly Bob’ and ‘Sneck Lifter’.

3. Elderflower Cordial

This is produced from the flower of the Elder, a bush that produces copious red berries in the autumn that are often turned into a country wine by amateur wine makers. A little of the cordial is diluted to taste using iced water and it goes down well on a hot summer’s day as you read your book whilst lounging in the shade! The taste is delicate with an exquisite floral aroma.

4. Lindisfarne Mead 

This is more readily available in the north east of England but can be found further afield. It was originally made by the monks resident on the island of Lindisfarne off the coast of Northumberland. It is made at St Aidan’s Winery on Lindisfarne and is a fortified sweet wine. Mead is sometimes referred to as ‘the nectar of the gods’ and well deserves its place in the 5 best drinks in England but careful, when you drink it, it slips down rather easily!

5. Pimm’s

Photo by Matt Boulton

Photo by Matt Boulton

Pimm’s was invented in 1823 by James Pimm, a London oyster bar owner, as an aid to digestion. The original was named ‘Pimm’s No. 1 Cup’ and is still made today, whereas other varieties based on other spirits have come and gone. The No 1 Cup is a gin based drink, flavoured with a secret recipe of herbs and fruits, and it goes down nicely on warm days. It is associated with the upper middle classes, who might say that it really should be at number one on this list of 5 best drinks in England.

Have you visited England? Have you sampled some of their drinks? If so, please let us know your thoughts on what you feel are the five best drinks in England!

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