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The Lovely Carla has learned a lot, living with me. Like, how to be a total cheapo.

More important, how to make things look, feel, taste awesome, without paying out awesome amounts of dinero.

But this has to take the cake.

Or shall we say, take the prize for… drum roll, please! …best, and cheapest, thirst-quenchingest libation of the Summer of Twenty-Twelve.


She always comes up with something for the summer, that you could, like, take a pitcher-full of out into the sun when your bro and his tribe turn up unexpectedly and don’t look like they’re leaving any time soon. Last year it was her own squeezed lemonade. Year before, it was iced tea. Year before that it was ginger ale.

Today it’s….

“Eureka! I’ve got it! Taste this! Then bottle it and we’ll make millions!”

So I hear her clinking ice into two tall plastic tumblers.


Then she appears out in the sun with a big ol’ 2-liter plastic bottle of Safeway brand tonic water (diet, $1.19), and the clinking tumblers. And a two-quart carton of Safeway medium-pulp homestyle OJ ($1.50 with a Vons card).

“The beauty of this lies in its simplicity," she says, "Observe. Learn. Faint with astonishment at your first taste.”

And she glugs out tonic over the ice until about an inch below the top, after the bubbles have settled down.


Then she tops it up with orange juice. The color plunges through the tonic.


“Now, taste. Tell me that’s not the most thirst-quenching drink you’ve ever had. And it tastes like some gin-based punch, Tom Collins, whatever, right?”

I take a slurp, and OMG, that’s exactly what it tastes like. An alcoholic summer drink. You think Cabo, Rosarito, Monte Carlo…

“Plus tonic’s made from quinine,” says Carla. “Great for muscle spasms, and, uh, malaria.”

“So global warming, we become the tropics, mosquito invasion, this’ll be our drink, right?” I say.

But she’s right. No need to wait for that. It’s totally thirst-quenching, fruity, with that little bite, that tonic tang at the end that makes it feel like what Grown-Ups drink, and also, I swear, it's a little bit addictive…

“So you get naming rights,” says Carla. “I just thought ‘Tonic and Orange.’ Keep it simple.”

“Keep it simple?” I say. "Hmm." Then, a flash of brilliance.

“How about ‘T&O?’”

“T&O! Moments like these, Bedford, make up for…”

“All the rest of the BS I cause in our life?”

“Something like that.”

So hey, spread the word, T&O. Way to go.

The part I like? Six, maybe ten drinks for under $3. The 30-cent cocktail! How can you beat that?

Bring on summer!

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Ed Bedford May 16, 2012 @ 11:34 p.m.

Now you mention it, they do taste a little the same, except Orangina doesn't have tonic water in it. None of that good quinine. And costs a heckuva lot more.


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