Friday, August 10, 2012

Four drinks to cool off your summer

During the summer, I love to make cold drinks.
   I make it a priority on weekends to mix up at least one pitcher of something refreshing, be it alcoholic or non-alcoholic.
   Recently I’ve tried four new drink recipes that my husband and I really enjoyed.

Minted Vodka Lemonade (click for the recipe) from Bon Appetit magazine is wonderfully boozy and tart libation that will cut through the summer heat like a knife. It makes a terrific pre-meal cocktail while the steaks are grilling.
   And it’s so easy to make.
   Chopped mint leaves, sugar (I used Splenda instead), fresh lemon juice and vodka are combined in a large bowl and left to refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to two hours. The mixture is strained into a pitcher.
   Glasses are filled with crushed ice and the lemonade is poured over. I used a small electric chopper to make the crushed ice.

Rosemary-Infused Cucumber Lemonade (click for the recipe) isn’t as crowd-friendly as the Minted Vodka Lemonade above. It’s refreshing and delicious, but I could see some people finding it a bit on the weird side. Save this drink for foodie or vegetarian friends.
   The version I linked to above is non-alcoholic. However, you can add gin to the mixture and make the alcoholic version, called Cucumber-Lemonade Chiller (click for the recipe). The gin, I’m predicting, would be a wonderful addition to the drink.
   Cucumber is peeled and chopped and puréed in a food processor with fresh rosemary. The purée is strained into a bowl or pitcher, and water, fresh lemon juice and agave syrup are added and stirred in. Refrigerate until cold, and serve over ice. I skipped the cucumber and rosemary garnish on the drinks.

For those of you who like a subtle-tasting iced tea that doesn’t attack you with sweetness, I recommend Garden Green Iced Tea (click for the recipe). It’s got a nice, easygoing herbal thing going on.
   As the title suggests, this iced tea is a combination of green tea and fresh garden herbs.
   Water, mint, basil, sage and honey are combined in a saucepan and brought to a boil. Green tea bags are added and left to steep.
   The recipe doesn’t say to do this, but I took the green tea bags out before pouring the tea into a pitcher. Once the tea is in the pitcher (don’t strain the herbs out), water is added. The tea is refrigerated and served over ice.

Orange-Earl Grey Iced Tea (click for the recipe) is sweeter than Garden Green Iced Tea, making it more of a general crowd-pleaser. The orange flavor is a wonderful addition to traditional iced tea.
   Earl Grey tea bags or loose Earl Grey tea and orange peel are steeped in boiling water for three to five minutes.
   The tea is strained, or the orange peel and tea bags removed. The tea is poured into a pitcher, and fresh orange juice, sugar (I used Splenda instead), and cold water are added and stirred in.
   Refrigerate until cold, and serve over ice.

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