Refreshing summer drinks

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 21, 2011

By Katie Scarvey
Summer is a wonderful time to play with drink recipes, whether you’re perfecting sangria or experimenting with iced tea.
Or mojitos.
I had my first mojito, a traditional Cuban highball, on a trip recently to Charleston, and it was so good that I was inspired to try my own at home. Of course it wasn’t just the yumminess that inspired me — it was also the hefty restaurant price. It didn’t take me long to do the math and figure that I could make my own at a fifth the cost of the restaurant bar version.
I was even more motivated since we have mint growing in our garden, and what is a mojito without fresh mint? Just another rum drink.
After doing some research, I found a recipe that seemed to have many enthusiastic fans, and the secret, the blogger divulged, was in mint-infused simple syrup. Making the simple syrup actually is quite simple — start with that.
Mint-infused simple syrup
Mix one cup water with one cup sugar in a saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Then let it steep with a handful of mint leaves for at least 30 minutes; strain and store in your refrigerator in a container with a lid. Obviously, the more mint you use, the mintier your syrup will be. (You can also use this syrup to make minty iced tea.)
1 ounce mint-infused simple
6-12 mint leaves
11/2-2 ounces light rum
half a lime
club soda
Pour one ounce mint-infused simple syrup into a tall glass.
Add 6-12 fresh mint leaves, and muddle it together. Add crushed ice. Muddle some more.
Add to that 11/2 to 2 ounces of light rum.
Squeeze in the juice of half a lime. Add a splash of club soda and stir.
Garnish with a mint sprig and a slice of lime.
• • •
Sara Hill, a fantastic local cook, shared this recipe for Golden Sparkle Sangria.
Golden Sparkle Sangria
1 carton (64oz) pineapple-
orange juice
1 bottle sparkling white grape
1/4C. sugar
1 bottle champagne or white
wine (does not need to be
an expensive wine)
1 orange, thinly sliced
1 lime, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh strawberries or
maraschino cherries
Combine all ingredients, cover and refrigerate for 4 hours for flavors to blend. Serve chilled or over ice. Serves about 20.
• • •
If you prefer regular sangria, with red wine, here’s a recipe.
4 oranges, 2 juiced, 2 halved
lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/3-1/2 C. sugar
1/4 C. brandy
1 bottle dry red wine, chilled
2 lemons, thinly sliced
2 cups club soda
In a large pitcher, combine orange juice, sugar, and brandy; stir well. Add wine, fruit slices and club soda; stir to combine. Fill glasses with ice before serving.
Watermelon Limeade
8 C, chopped seedless
watermelon (about
6 pounds)
1/2C. freshly squeezed lime
juice (about 4 limes)
2 Tbs. sugar, plus 2 Tbs. more, if needed
1/2 C. vodka, (optional)
Mint leaves
Working in batches, puree in blender watermelon with lime juice and sugar until smooth. Add more sugar, if needed.
Transfer puree to a pitcher; add vodka, if desired. Cover; chill until ready to serve.
Stir; pour into tumblers, over ice. Garnish with mint.
Lemon Shandies
Have you ever had a shandy? It’s basically a mixture of beer and lemonade, and it’s a peppy change of pace for a crowd that normally prefers beer.
1/2 C. sugar
3/4 C. fresh lemon juice (from
about 4 lemons), plus
wedges, for serving
8 mild pilsner beers
(12 ounces each)
Place eight 16-ounce glasses or mugs in the freezer.
In a small saucepan, combine sugar and 3/4 cup water over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Refrigerate until cool, at least 10 minutes and up to 1 week.
In a 2-cup liquid measure or small pitcher, combine sugar mixture and lemon juice. Pour 1 beer into each chilled glass; add about 1/4 cup lemon mixture and, if desired, a lemon wedge. Serve immediately.
• • •
When peaches are in season, try this recipe for peach iced tea. This version is pretty light, since it uses stevia as a sweetener. You could use sugar if you’d rather go old school.
Peach Iced Tea
3 C. water
3 family size tea bags
2 fresh peaches – peeled,
pitted and sliced
1 C. water
11/2tsp. stevia powder
Bring three cups water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Add the tea bags, and steep for 15 minutes. Remove tea bags.
Meanwhile, place peaches with one cup water into the jar of a blender, and blend until very smooth. Pour the peach mixture, tea, and stevia powder into a 1 gallon pitcher. Fill the pitcher to the top with water, and stir until blended.
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