Melon and Cucumber Agua Fresca
Serves 6 to 8.
"Dual purposes are served here," writes author Deborah Madison. "The first is to make a drink that is greenly cool and refreshing; the other is to use up extra melon you just couldn't get to. Adding the cucumber diminishes the sweetness of the melons." From "Local Flavors" (Broadway Books, $39.95).
4 c. honeydew or other melon, cut in to chunks
1 medium cucumber, peeled and chopped
Simple Syrup (see recipe)
Zest and juice of 1 or 2 limes
Handful of mint leaves or pineapple sage
2 c. spring or mineral water
Sprigs of mint for garnish
In a blender or food processor, purée melon and cucumber just enough to break them up without letting them get too foamy. Pour purée into a large pitcher. Add syrup to taste, lime zest, lime juice and mint (or pineapple sage). Chill well (these are always best drunk the day they are made). Stir in spring water, pour over ice, garnish with mint and serve immediately.
Yellow Mary Mix
Makes about 2 quarts.
"Make this golden version of Bloody Mary mix in the summer months, when ripe, sweet yellow tomatoes are available," writes author Marcus Samuelsson. From "Aquavit and the New Scandinavian Cuisine" (Houghton Mifflin, $45).
2 celery ribs , optional
12 lbs. yellow tomatoes
1/2ripe mango, peeled and seeded
Juice from 2 limes
2 tbsp. grated horseradish
10 drops Worcestershire sauce
6 drops hot sauce
Celery ribs for garnish
Juice celery in a vegetable juicer. Pour juice into ice cube trays and freeze (optional).
Juice tomatoes and mango and transfer juice to a large pitcher. (Alternately, core tomatoes and coarsely chop, reserving juices. Chop mango. Transfer tomato and juices and mango to a food processor, in batches if necessary, and purée. Strain purée through a fine-mesh sieve set over a large bowl, pressing against solids with back of a wooden spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Transfer purée to a large pitcher).
Stir in lime juice, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
To serve, pour about cup of mix into a tall glass half filled with ice. Add vodka to taste and stir to mix. Add celery juice ice cube (optional) or garnish with a celery rib and serve immediately.
Plum and Nectarine Sangria
"Look for plums and nectarines that are ripe but still firm to ensure that they do not become too soft when soaked in the wine," writes author Steve Siegelman. "Use a dry white rioja or sauvignon blanc for the wine." From "Outdoor Entertaining" (Williams-Sonoma, $24.95).
3 plums, halved, pitted and cut into thin wedges
3 nectarines, halved, pitted and cut into thin wedges
1 (12-oz.) can nectarine nectar
1/4c. orange liqueur
1 bottle (750 ml./24 oz.) dry white wine
1 bottle (750 ml./24 oz.) sparkling water, chilled
In a large pitcher, combine plum and nectarine wedges, nectarine nectar, orange liqueur and white wine. Stir well, cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours (up to 12 hours) to blend flavors.
To serve, fill tall glasses with ice cubes and add wine mixture, dividing evenly. Top off each glass with sparkling water and serve immediately.
"This is one fine way to get your antioxidants," writes author W. Park Kerr. From "Viva Vodka" (Chronicle Books, $16.95).
1/2c. cooled Simple Syrup (see recipe)
3/4c. freshly squeezed lime juice
3/4c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 oz. premium vodka
1/4c. fresh blueberries
2 fresh mint leaves
Rub rim of a chilled cocktail glass with lemon wedge, then dip rim in sugar.
To make Sweet and Sour Syrup: In a large glass jar, combine Simple Syrup, lime juice, lemon juice and water. Close lid tightly and shake vigorously until well mixed (refrigerate in a tightly sealed jar for up to 2 weeks).
In a cocktail shaker with ice, shake 3 tablespoons Sweet and Sour Syrup, vodka, blueberries and mint leaf. Strain carefully into prepared glass, garnish with a mint leaf and serve.
Lemon Verbena and Peppermint Iced Green Tea
Serves 2 to 4.
"I love the crisp flavor and aroma of lemon verbena, so I make sure I have a thick patch of it growing in my garden every summer," writes author Mary Lou Heiss. From "Green Tea," (Harvard Common Press, $12.95).
4 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4c. tightly packed fresh lemon verbena leaves
12 large whole fresh mint leaves
2 c. boiling water
2 c. chilled green tea
Simple Syrup to taste (optional; see recipe)
Lemon slices and sugar for garnish
In a 4-cup heat-proof measuring cup, combine lemon juice, lemon verbena, mint and boiling water and infuse for 2 minutes. Strain liquid through a mesh strainer into a pitcher and allow to cool. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled.
When ready to serve, stir in chilled green tea (and Simple Syrup to taste, if desired) to the lemon mixture. Pour into tall glasses filled with ice, garnish with lemon wedges dredged in sugar and serve immediately.
Makes about 2 cups concentrate.
Note: This recipe must be made a day in advance. "If you were thirsty in the 18th- or 19th-centuries, you might have drunk a 'shrub,' a refreshing beverage flavored with fruit, cider vinegar and sugar syrup," writes the Moosewood Collective authors. "In the 21st century, we can revive this tradition by using sparkling water to add fizz."
1 c. cider vinegar
1 c. fresh red raspberries
In a blender or food processor, purée vinegar, raspberries and sugar. Transfer purée into a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 3 to 4 minutes.
Transfer mixture to a glass jar or ceramic bowl, cover and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours. Then strain (in batches, if necessary) through a fine-mesh sieve (or a colander lined with cheesecloth) into a glass jar or ceramic bowl, pushing liquid with back of a wooden spoon; discard seeds and pulp.
To serve, stir 2 teaspoons shrub with 6 ounces sparkling water, pour into a tall glass filled with ice and serve immediately. (Bottled and refrigerated, shrub will keep up to a month).
Basil Lime Fizz
"It's the perfect quencher for a hot summer day in the herb garden, or to offer as a nonalcoholic option at cocktail hour," writes author Jerry Traunfeld. From "The Herbal Kitchen: Cooking With Fragrance and Flavor" (William Morrow, $34.95).
11/2c. fresh basil leaves
1/2c. superfine sugar
1/8tsp. baking soda
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
Chilled sparkling water or club soda
In a small pot of rapidly boiling water, blanch basil for 10 seconds, then drain and plunge into a small bowl of ice water. Drain again and gently squeeze excess water from leaves.
In a blender, purée blanched basil with sugar, water and baking soda until a dark green liquid forms, about 30 seconds. Pour syrup through a fine-mesh sieve into a glass jar or bowl, pressing liquid with back of a wooden spoon to push it through. (Refrigerated in a tightly sealed container, basil syrup will keep for 2 to 3 days).
To serve, pour 2 tablespoons basil syrup and lime juice into bottom of a 12-ounce tumbler. Fill glass about two-thirds full with ice. Pour in sparkling water as you stir with a spoon and serve.
Note: From "The Herbal Kitchen."
6 medium sage leaves
1/4of a large lemon, cut into 2 wedges
2 tsp. sugar
4 oz. gin
4 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
2 twists of grapefruit peel for garnish
In a cocktail shaker, combine sage leaves, lemon wedges and sugar and crush them together with about a dozen determined strokes of a cocktail muddler or end of a slender rolling pin or a wooden spoon. Add gin and grapefruit juice and fill with ice cubes. Cap and shake vigorously. Strain into 2 martini glasses, garnish with grapefruit peel twists and serve.
This bartender's basic blends with cold beverages far better than sugar.
21/2 c. water
2 c. sugar
In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine water and sugar and heat until sugar is completely dissolved and liquid is clear. Remove from heat, cool completely and reserve in a tightly sealed jar. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks.