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Refreshing drinks for long, hot days

Mango delight

This Bellini uses no alcohol, but you can always change it up. Mango gives it the taste of summer.

We had the monsoon season last week. Now, it’s back to typical August, hot, sunny, humid. Do anything outside for long, and you feel pretty drained.

A new study shows that being dehydrated can impair your thinking.

The Georgia Institute of Technology’s Mindy Millard-Stafford published an analysis of evidence earlier this month. Tests showed people who were dehydrated took longer to complete a mental task, had difficulty concentrating and made more mistakes.

Taking a moderate hike could lead to 1.5 to 2 percent dehydration. That 2 percent means you’ve lost about a liter of water in sweat.

By the time you get thirsty, you are around 2 percent dehydrated. The test asked women who drank only 6 ounces of water during the day to play a card game that requires a lot of attention, with rules changing throughout the game. They had 12 percent more errors. Once they could rehydrate, their performance improved.

One study suggests women should have 91 ounces of water a day; men, 125. But, water includes all sources, including food and coffee and tea, as well as fruits and vegetables.

So just sip something (not sugary soda) all through the day to stay alert and on top of things.

Here are some drink ideas that can give you variety during your sips, and they make great drinks for backyard parties, picnics, an afternoon by the pool.

We also threw in a couple of lighter alcoholic drinks that use added fruit for refreshment. For the most part, these drinks are also lighter on sugar so you don’t drink too many calories.

There is little evidence that drinking water that has fruit in it — not juiced, just floating — has any health benefits. It might make it easier for you to get the water down, if you like the very subtle flavor.

Watermelon Cucumber Basil Seltzer

1/2 cup diced watermelon

1/2 cup diced cucumber

6-8 fresh basil leaves

Juice of 1/2 lime

1 cup water

For simple syrup:

1 cup water

1 cup sugar or honey

3 cups seltzer water

To make fruit concentrate, place watermelon, cucumber, basil and lime in a pitcher or large jar and smash with a wooden spoon to release their juices. Stir in water. Let the mixture infuse in the refrigerator overnight, then strain.

To make simple syrup, combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until completely dissolved. Let cool.

For each serving of soda, combine 1/4 cup of fruit concentrate, 1 tsp. simple syrup and 3/4 cup seltzer water in a glass. Serve with ice.

The fruit concentrate will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The syrup will keep, covered, in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Variation: Pineapple Lemon Ginger — 1 cup chopped pineapple, fresh or frozen (thawed), 1/2 lemon, sliced, 1 tsp. sliced fresh ginger.

— Eating Well

Summer Berry Citrus Spritzer

2 cups fresh berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, etc., or a mix

1/2 cup orange juice

2 Tbsp. lime juice, plus lime slices for garnish

2 Tbsp. honey

3 cups lemon-lime seltzer or soda water

Ice cubes

Place berries, orange juice, lime juice and honey in a blender and blend until smooth. Pass the berry mixture through a strainer into a pitcher.

Pour seltzer or soda water into the pitcher and stir. Serve over ice, garnished with berries and lime slices.

Variation: Use frozen berries instead of ice cubes.

Easy Summer Watermelon Sangria

6 cups watermelon, cubed

1 cup sugar (or more, to taste)

750 ml white wine

1 cup vodka

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

1-2 cups water (still or sparkling)

Add cubed watermelon and sugar to blender and blend until smooth. Set a fine mesh strainer over a large pitcher and pour the watermelon juice through. Add the white wine, vodka and fresh lime juice to the pitcher and stir well.

Taste the mixture. If it is too strong, add 1-2 cups water before serving, or chill the juice mixture and add sparkling water just before serving. Garnish with watermelon slices and lime if desired.

— The Salty Marshmallow

Virgin Mango Bellini

3 medium mangoes

2 limes

1/3 cup cold water

750 ml sparkling apple juice

Peel, stone and dice mangos, then blend until completely pureed. Add lime juice and water and pulse until combined.

Transfer to a pitcher and add sparkling apple juice. Stir gently and serve.

For a tipsy version, omit the apple juice. Pour mango puree into a glass and top with sparkling wine.

Makes 6 drinks.

No Alcohol Sangria

1 750 ml bottle sparkling white grape juice or cider

1/2 cup pomegranate juice

1 firm, ripe nectarine, sliced or chopped

1 cup fresh blueberries

1/12 cups chilled plain seltzer

Ice

Combine sparkling juice or cider with pomegranate juice, nectarine and blueberries in a large pitcher. Refrigerate until cold, about four hours. Just before serving, stir in seltzer. Serve over ice.

Cucumber-Mint Spritzer

3 small cucumbers

6 leaves fresh mint, plus sprigs for garnish

2 lemons or limes

1 liter lemon seltzer water

Ice

Slice cucumbers into thin ribbons or disks using a mandoline or vegetable peeler. Place in a pitcher. Add mint leaves and gently muddle. Squeeze juice from 1 1/2 lemons or limes into the pitcher, reserving the other half for garnish. Stir in seltzer. Serve over ice, garnished with mint sprigs and lemon or lime slices.

— Eating Well

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