Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer beverages don’t seem to convey the same emotion that a winter beverage can. Think about how soothing a cup of hot coco is after spending some time in the snow, or coffee on a January morning, or how a shot of whiskey will get you through the fourth quarter of a Browns game in December. Summer beverages are those of desperation “give me something to drink before my mouth seals itself shut and I pass out from dehydration.” On the other hand there is a relaxing feeling associated with a well crafted handmade Ice Tea or Lemonade that is infinitely more than just thirst quenching.

Ice Tea is by far the most popular of the poll. I agree, except for the lemonade I make that I’ll share the recipe for. Sangria reminds me of a suburban hairy buffalo…just through a whole bunch of fruity stuff together and taste, if it’s not good enough add more stuff till you either like it or run out of stuff to add. Beer is neither hydrating nor thirst quenching in my opinion. The addition of salt and lime does seem to freshen up a beer and reduce some of the carbonation. Start with a can of Tecate, rub a lime slice around the rim, dip one side in salt, open the can and insert the lime slice, now that is refreshment.

Water is great, if fact it should be our favorite as it’s free (mostly), the most healthy, and easiest beverage on the list. I drink more water than any other beverage. In the hot kitchen nothing tastes better. I do have a grip about bottled water though; bottles of water should not come any smaller than a liter. I take down a 12-16 oz bottle in two gulps and throw the bottle in the recycling bin. Who drinks 12 oz of water and says, “oh no, that’s it, I can’t drink anymore,” who?

Next time you want to put a twist on you ice tea or lemonade try either of these two ideas. I’ve tested them, and they work great.

Ice Tea

For every two quarts of brewed Ice Tea add: half an orange with the following spices stuck into it;

One cinnamon stick, 3 inches
One star anise
2 cloves
2 green cardamom pods

Since everything is stuck in the orange it’s easy to get out. I like to let mine sit overnight, but if the flavors get too strong for your liking just grab the orange out earlier. Of course there is nothing wrong with leaving it in.


In a pot combine

2 quarts of water
1.5 quarts of sugar
3 lemons, zested, then juiced
3 limes, zested, then juiced
6 stalks of lemongrass, rough chop
4 oz of ginger, sliced thin
4 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 oz mint
1 oz basil

Bring this mixture to a boil and simmer for 15 min. Let sit at room temperature until cooled. This is a base flavor mix that can be kept, covered, and refrigerated for a fair amount of time. If it becomes thick towards the end, microwave it in the container for 30 seconds to get things flowing.

Using this base mixture of any amount I like to use a 1:1:1 ratio of lemon juice, base, and a mixture of tonic water and club soda for bubbles. I know it’s easy in the restaurant to walk over to the soda gun and get whatever I want so unless you like tonic water already stick with the club soda. There is nothing wrong with using purchased lemon juice, just stick with the fresh squeezed thing. If the word concentrate is anywhere on the label, skip it.

Enjoy you summer with a great beverage!



DianeS said...

When I finally make it out the BRC for dinner I will have to tell you a story about "free water".

My fave summer tea is green tea with lots of lime juice, lime zest and honey served chilled and iced.

Michael Walsh said...

Green tea and lime sounds very interesting. I'm putting both on my shopping list.