Where I’m from, in Southern Ontario, we’ve had a weird, wet summer so far. Right now it’s hot as blazes and the plants are out-of-control massive from the rain. As a result, my mint patch, which is abundant at the WORST of times, is verging on a hostile takeover of the west side of the yard. I’ve been throwing mint and lemon balm in everything, from smoothies to salads, in a fool’s errand of an attempt to thin the crop. I’ve gotten so desperate that I’ve recently started throwing it into my drinks, too.
As it turns out, it is hard to go wrong with fresh herbs and cold booze on a hot day. Here are three of my current favourites. You’ll notice that they’re all lemonade-based: I love lemonade. It’s the summeriest of sweet treats and when the weather warms up I mainline it as much as I can. My favourite store-bought lemonade is Santa Cruz Organic, but I’ve also made my own on occasion. I’ve been using the recipe from the Anne of Green Gables cookbook since I was about nine, because I am that kind of dork. Whether you start from scratch or in an air-conditioned grocery aisle, these summer cocktails are easy and refreshing and mild enough in the alcohol department to sip on all afternoon. After all, summer doesn’t last long enough to waste a single moment under the sun.
Using a muddler or just your fingers, muddle a few leaves of mint and lemon balm. Place in the bottom of a wine glass.
Add some ice cubes. Fill glass half full with Rose. (I’ve been using a Cabernet Rose from Strewn Winery in Niagara on the Lake, leftover from a wonderful weekend there in early June, but La Vielle Ferme also makes a lovely one. The key is to find one that’s fairly dry.) Add lemonade and a splash of soda water to fill the glass. Stir gently and garnish with lime and berries.
This one also works beautifully with Moscato, a slightly bubbly and somewhat sweet wine. It makes for a much sweeter taste, but is delicious and mildly addictive.
Muddle a few leaves of basil and mint with a bit of superfine sugar. Place in the bottom of a tumbler filled with ice. Add 1.5 oz 100% Agave Tequila (Patron if you’re feeling fancy, but in this house we’ve been going with good old reliable Jose Cuervo). Fill the glass with lemonade and stir to mix. Add a splash of soda and garnish with lime.
Note: This could be prepared in a cocktail shaker, too. Someday I shall live the fancy life. Someday.
The 33 Year Old Virgin (Cocktail, that is.)
Throw a few ice cubes into a tumbler and then fill with half lemonade, half kombucha. (Till I finally get around to learning to make my own, my kombucha of choice is GT’s Organic Raw brand–the Gingerade one is fabulous in this recipe.) Garnish with lime wedges, grated ginger, mint leaves, or a handful of fresh berries.
Note: This is the cocktail I am sipping as I write this piece, and honestly, it’s so refreshing I don’t even mind the sound of the neighbour fixing his old car engine in the driveway next to the house. Ah, the sounds of a city summer.Add to favorites