Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My go-to lemonade recipe --
it's perfect for a party!

Lemonade – this drink and iced tea go head-to-head for the title of iconic summer refresher.
   I love my go-to summer lemonade recipe, Basil Lemonade (click for the recipe) from Gourmet magazine. It has a twist, as it’s made with basil, which adds to its ability to cut through the heat of a blistering day.
   The recipe is terrific for a summer party because it has two sensational versions – non-alcoholic lemonade, or gimlets made with the addition of vodka. You can please guests of either preference.
   The drink’s base is a basil lemon syrup. It’s made by combining fresh basil, water, sugar (I used Splenda) and strips of lemon zest (lemon peel) in a saucepan, bringing the mixture to a boil, then letting it cool at room temperature for an hour and then in the fridge for an hour. The syrup is strained through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.
   The basil lemon syrup recipe yields five cups of syrup. For a batch of six cups of basil lemonade, just two cups of basil lemon syrup is needed, while for six basil vodka gimlets just one cup of syrup is required.
   Five cups of basil lemon syrup, then, will comfortably make a batch each of gimlets and lemonade.
   Although the syrup keeps well in the fridge for five days and can be used more than once, if you think you need less than the five cups you can halve the basil lemon syrup recipe ingredients to make half a batch.
   The basil lemonade is made by combining basil lemon syrup, cold water, ice cubes and fresh lemon juice in a large pitcher. Though the recipe doesn’t say to do this, I always let the lemonade chill for at least three hours before serving. The lemonade is served in tall glasses half-filled with ice.
   The basil vodka gimlets are made by combining basil lemon syrup, vodka, fresh lemon juice and ice cubes in a pitcher, and then chilling until cold. The mixture is strained into 8- to 10-ounce glasses half-filled with ice. If you don’t feel like straining, don’t bother – I usually don’t.

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