Mocktails and Cocktails to Beat the Heat
Thankfully there is more to summer beverages than iced tea and lemonade—not that there is anything wrong with that, but sometimes you need something with a little more 'oomph' to enjoy the warm weather vibes. No need to rely on artificially flavoured, overly sweetened mixers or obscure ingredients—these drinks incorporate the best that summer has to offer with healthy, kid-friendly ingredients that can also be turned into adult beverages.
Cucumber Honeydew Cooler
Recipe courtesy of Southern Living
At first the combination of cucumber and honeydew seems unusual, but when paired bring out the best in each other. Cucumbers are great for hydration, and full of antioxidants and vitamin K. Honeydew balances electrolytes and is high in Vitamin C.
If you want a beverage with more body, you can simply blend the cucumber and honeydew along with water or ice, and some sugar to liquefy the ingredients. It is refreshing on its own, but you can add your mixer of choice such as lime seltzer or gin, and then garnish. If you want something closer to juice, you'll want to run it through a strainer or fine mesh to remove the pulpy bits and seeds.
If you don't have honeydew, you can substitute watermelon or canteloupe which are equally delicious.
4 cups peeled and chopped cucumbers (about 500 g)
1 1/2 cups cubed honeydew melon (about 270 g)
1 cup (235 ml) water
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup (235 ml) lime seltzer (for mocktail) OR
1 cup (235 m.) floral gin (for cocktail)
Garnish: cucumber slices or lime slices
Process chopped cucumbers, cubed honeydew melon, water, and granulated sugar in a blender until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes.
Working in batches, pour puree through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. If you have removed the seeds from the pulpy solids, you save and freeze them to add to smoothies, or combine with a little honey and freeze for a quick sorbet). Pour cucumber-honeydew juice into a 2 to 3-liter pitcher. Stir in lime seltzer if making a cocktail. If making a cocktail, add gin.
Slice one cucumber very thinly length-wise with a mandoline. Loop cucumber ribbons around insides of 8 small serving glasses. Fill with ice; pour cocktail evenly into glasses.
The Bellini is a summertime drink, invented by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of Harry's Bar in Venice, Italy. He named the drink the Bellini because its unique pink color reminded him of the toga of a saint in a painting by 15th-century Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini.
These drinks are traditionally made with white peach puree or peach nectar, but a yellow peach will certainly do. This recipe calls for fresh peaches that have been cooked down and mixed with a lemon-sugar mixture. Of course, if you are short on time, you can purchase store-bought peach nectar in place of making it from scratch.
8 ripe peaches
2 cups (470 millilitres) water
4 Tbsp sugar
1 lemon juiced (about 2 tbsp)
1.5 cups (350 ml) ginger ale OR 1.5 cups (350 ml) Prosecco
Garnish: handful of berries
Wash and score the peaches with an 'x' using a knife.
Blanch them in boiling water for 30 seconds or just until you start to see the skins peeling away.
Remove the peaches with a slotted spoon and plunge into ice water.
Once cooled, remove the skin, which should come off easily, and cut the peaches into quarters, removing the pit.
In a stockpot, add the sliced peaches and lemon-water mixture. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat and let cool.
Transfer the mixture to a blender and process until smooth. Transfer the contents to a pitcher or container and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To make the mocktail, mix 1.5 cups (350 ml) ginger ale with 1 cup (235 ml) of nectar in a pitcher, and divide evenly in wine glasses. To make the cocktail, mix 1.5 cups (350 ml) Prosecco with 1 cup (235 ml) of nectar in a pitcher, and divide evenly in wine glasses.
Garnish with several berries.
Watermelon Agua Fresca
Watermelon is a great crowd-pleasing fruit, but sometimes you just have too much of it to consume yourself. Enter a refreshing drink called agua fresca, which is popular in Mexico, Agua frescas are made from fruit, grains or vegetables or some combination of all three, and the formula is pretty simple: it is primarily water, fruit, a little bit of sugar and some lime. Depending on how sweet your fruit is, you can adjust the sweetener according to your taste.
4 cups (600 g) fresh watermelon, cubed
1/2 cup (118 ml) filtered water
1-2 Tbsp sugar, or to taste
2 tsp fresh-squeezed lime juice
Chopped mint (optional)
Lime wedges for garnish (optional)
2.5 oz (75 ml) rum (optional)
Cut watermelon into large chunks.
Add water, sugar, and lime juice and blend and transfer to a pitcher. If you want to make this alcoholic, you can also add the rum at this time.
If adding mint, finely chop and add to glass, along with ice before pouring.
The drink is pretty with a lime wedge garnish, spring of mint or even a small piece of sliced watermelon. *If you can't find lime - which is preferable, lemon will also do, although it does change the taste, The pinch of acidity helps brighten the flavour of the drink.