Refreshing Summer Drinks
I have very fond memories of the soda fountain at our local department store. It was always a treat when I could climb up on the high stools and have Mom buy me a Lime Rickey made right in front of me. Nothing else seemed quite so refreshing on a hot summer day. It’s amazing how just a couple of ingredients tasted so delicious!
After a very short spring, the summer heat has come to the Berkshires. As we try to find healthy ways to cool off and stay hydrated, many summer picnics include a big batch of lemonade. Although not as prolific as they once were, sometimes you even stumble upon a couple of enterprising children who hope to make some vacation money by setting up a lemonade stand. I always keep some change in my car just in case.
It’s simple to make your own fresh lemonade from scratch. Although there are many varieties of pre-packaged lemonade mixes on the market, why take sips of chemicals and artificial coloring when homemade lemonade only takes a few minutes to make?
The trick for making the most delicious Lime Rickey or lemonade begins with buying the best fruit. Take time to pick through the lemons and limes and choose the ones that are the heaviest, indicating that they will also be the juiciest.
1 cup sugar and 1 cup water (this will make enough simple syrup for 2 recipes)
Juice of 6 -7 freshly squeezed limes
Sparkling water or seltzer
First, make some simple syrup. Combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a small saucepan. Simmer, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves, then let cool. You can make the simple syrup ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator.
In a large lidded pitcher or large canning jar, combine 8 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice with 4 ounces of simple syrup. Add 2 cups of ice cubes and vigorously shake.
To serve, pour about 2 tablespoons of the lime-sugar mixture into a glass and top it off with 8 ounces of sparkling water. If you have club soda, or even tonic water, you can use that in place of the sparkling water. The more fizz, the more refreshing a drink.
Juice of 7 freshly squeezed lemons
2 cups hot water
½ cup sugar
I’ll start with a bit of a warning – I like my lemonade to be tart, not sweet – so begin by adding the ½ cup sugar, but you might end up increasing the amount little-by-little. The taste will also depend on how juicy your lemons are.
In a large lidded pitcher or large canning jar, combine ½ cup sugar with 2 cups of hot water. Vigorously shake or stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add 4 cups of ice cubes and shake or stir well. The ice will flash cool the lemonade while they slightly melt. Top off with 2 more cups of cold water.
Both of these recipes taste delicious when you add some fresh herbs to the mix. Experiment with your favorites – basil, mint, thyme, and even rosemary add a wonderful complexity to the flavor. If you love the taste of ginger, add about 3 “coins” (thin slices) of peeled, fresh ginger.
You can also add fresh berries - such as blueberries, raspberries or strawberries - and some lemon and lime slices to the pitcher for a beautiful invitation to sit down, relax and take a sip.