This June is on target to become one of the five wettest Junes in the history of Junes. At least here in the Raleigh area. In between the bouts of rain, things can get rather humid and warm and uncomfortable, though.
What is needed during the Sweltering Times is a refreshing beverage, one that cools you down and picks you up at the same time. A beverage that transports you to a broad front porch, a welcoming rocking chair and a cool breeze.
Friends, I have found the beverage: Sparkling Berry Mint Lemonade. A lot lemony, a little berry-y, tart and sweet, cooling from the mint and lifting from the wee fizzy bubbles. I daresay it is Nigh on to Perfection.
Part of its perfection lies in its versatility. Not everyone likes their beverages with the same amount of sweet, or tart, or fizz. Some folks don't like berries. Some folks don't like mint. And that's completely okay with me. As I see it, my job is to teach you a technique and then suggest tasty ways of putting the technique into practice.
Simple Syrup lies at the heart of almost every sweetened beverage. Water and sugar forced into solution through heat and stirring. A standard ratio for simple syrup is 1:1, or one part water to one part sugar. Equal parts of each. By weight (and honestly, I'm fine with volume here as well). A heavy syrup is usually about a 1:2 ratio of water to sugar. One part water, two parts sugar.
No need to stop with the basic syrup, though. You can steep almost anything into a simple syrup, from tea to spices to zest to herbs. Steep some mint in your syrup, pour some in a glass and then top off with as much cold water or club soda/fizzy water as you like to make a simple mint soda. Float some cucumber in your minty soda for an extra refreshing treat.
In the case of my Refreshing Beverage, I made a 1:1 syrup to which I added a ton of lemon zest and some fresh mint. I boiled the zest with the syrup, but I waited to add the mint until it was off the heat. Steeping in the zest of the fruit you are using for juice (lemons, in my case) reinforces and intensifies the lemon flavor since you're getting not only the flavor of the juice but also of the citrus oil in the zest.
Homemade soda is nothing more than a syrup, some flavorings/juices and carbonated water. So once you have made simple syrup, soda isn't far off. Neither is sparkling lemonade. Or sparkling mango. Or passion fruit. Or pineapple.
Back to the berry mint lemonade.
To make a glassful, I used 1/4 cup of lemon juice, 1/4 cup of simple syrup, a few berries and mint leaves from the yard for muddling and probably about 6 oz of club soda. The resulting beverage was well-balanced and delicious. For me. Use these measurements as a starting point and then go from there until you have made your perfect beverage.
And of course you can add alcohol to your beverage if you want. This is one of the other things I like about making beverages by the glass. Adults and kids can use the same base ingredients!
And now that you know the secrets, tell me, what's in your perfectly refreshing summer beverage?
Thanks for spending some of your time with me; have a wonderful day.