The start of fall classes always brings mixed feelings. A week ago or so, most of us had reached that point of the summer at which we’d done everything we wanted to do over the three-month break — work at internships and jobs, go on vacations, hangout with hometown friends or generally laze about and take pleasure in doing absolutely nothing. Some of us may have begun to feel the itch to get out of our parents’ houses, get together with friends on campus and (dare I say it?) get back into the classroom.
However, now that we’re back, we might begin to long for those summer days, especially when we already have trees changing colors to remind us that fall is not far ahead. So before we despair at the multiple class syllabi and looming due dates and exams, here are my top five refreshments around Ithaca to cool you down during the first few hot weeks of the semester. And maybe, just maybe, that last drop of summer in your cup will make your transition into the school year a little easier.
1. CTB Smoothie from Collegetown Bagels
Most of the time, I can’t stand dining out in the summer. When it’s already 80 degrees with 80 percent humidity at eight in the morning, the last thing I want to think of is eating hot food for breakfast. But this CTB smoothie — a combination of strawberries, bananas, yogurt and orange juice — does the trick. The drink has a natural sweetness that’s tempered by the tangy citrus-and-yogurt duo. The yogurt also lends a thickened texture to the smoothie to complete the drink as a satiating breakfast that doesn’t require a toaster or a frying pan.
2. Ginger Lassi from Mehak Cuisine
Interestingly enough, when I finally muster up an appetite in the summer’s heat, I always crave Indian food and, in particular, Indian lassis. Many of you may be familiar with the sweet mango lassi, but for those of you willing to be a bit more adventurous, I recommend the ginger lassi from Mehak Cuisine on Eddy Street in Collegetown. Speckled with black salt, this creamy yogurt drink is the saltier and subtly bitter cousin of the mango lassi. Its flavors, however, complement the savory components of your meal and are a refreshing contrast to the typical overly sweet summer beverages.
3. Thai Iced Coffee from Taste of Thai
For those of you who need your caffeine fix and prefer to have your coffee sweet, I suggest the Thai iced coffee from Taste of Thai in Ithaca Commons. This drink combines strong black coffee and lots of sugar and is topped with a generous serving of cream; I like to take a spoon and mix the coffee and cream together. I would especially recommend this to those of you who want a sweet coffee drink that isn’t as much of a sugar bomb as the blended coffee drinks from Starbucks and the like.
4. Taro Black Milk Bubble Tea from The Old Teahouse
Whether you’re a longtime devotee of bubble tea or you’ve always been curious to try it, The Old Teahouse on Dryden Road in Collegetown is the place to go. The number of options and flavor combinations is mind-boggling: Green apple black tea or green apple green tea? Milk or no milk? Tapioca bubbles or fruit jellies? Although The Old Teahouse has plenty of recognizable fruit flavors, I recommend trying the taro black milk bubble tea. Its sweet-potato-like taste is a welcome departure from the typical strawberry or watermelon flavors and the chewy tapioca balls complete the drink as a fun afternoon snack.
5. Sin Smoothie from Jansen’s Market
I almost hesitate to call this one a “smoothie” because in my mind, anything made with a frozen-yogurt base is really just a slightly different version of a milkshake. Found in Jansen’s Market on West Campus, this yogurt shake comprises the classic peanut butter and banana pairing, now laced with dark chocolate. The first time I tried this smoothie, I asked for a whey protein supplement to try to justify my purchase. No such luck. This drink is rich, decadent and all sorts of wrong in a cup. Then again, what more can you ask of a summer refreshment? (For those of you who answered, “Alcohol,” that is completely your prerogative.)