Warm summer days filled with backyard fun can bring on a powerful thirst. But who wants to drink the same old thing all the time? Here are some creative ideas for beverages that will make your backyard the place to sip this summer.
Don’t discount the old standbys – pop, lemonade, and iced tea (or the 50-50 combo known as an Arnold Palmer). If you’re from the South, that’ll be sweet tea, for sure. In recent years it has become popular to use more interesting varieties of tea for icing – peach, mango, mint, etc., so don’t feel stuck with plain old orange pekoe.
Add a little vanilla or almond extract to your lemonade. And remember that just because Arnold mixed his tea with lemonade doesn’t mean you can’t use a different fruit juice. Try it.
Speaking of fruit . . .
Summer brings an abundance of fresh fruits, especially here in California, so why not make the most of them? Smoothies made with milk or ice-water. Think beyond strawberries and bananas when it comes to smoothies. Try apple with mint, for example. Or peanut butter.
Think non-alcoholic cocktails start and end with Shirley Temple? Heck no!
There is no end to the summer refreshers you can concoct with just a little imagination, plus lots of ice and a good martini shaker or a blender. Make them by the pitcher-full, and you’ll have more time to relax and enjoy your guests. Or spend some quiet time alone. If you were clever enough to replace your demanding old lawn install artificial grass, think of all the extra “me time” you’ll have this year!
Try your hand at summer spritzers, made with intriguing combinations of herbs and fruits or juices. For example, rosemary with lemon (or lemon and orange). Lavender with lemon. Thyme with blueberry. Basil with strawberry. Make a simple sugar syrup to keep in the fridge. Mix a tablespoon or two with your other ingredients, add ice and club soda. Yum! You can make non-alcoholic sangria, daiquiris, etc. too.
Worried about sugar highs and dental bills? Use faux sugar such as Truvia – it’s made from natural stevia and tastes like the real thing.
And let’s not overlook coffee and chocolate!
A tall glass of simple iced coffee can quickly take the edge off summer heat. But why stop there? You don’t have to go to Starbucks to get your hands on a frothy, yummy mocha. Let’s be honest here – it’s really a milkshake made with coffee, flavorings, and whipped cream instead of ice cream. Here, too, you can change up the specific ingredients to suit your family’s tastes. Of course, you could make real hand-crafted milkshakes, too. Mmmmmm.
Grow your own
Your local nursery has many types of mint you can plant to use in beverages. Experiment with pineapple mint, or lemon balm. And don’t forget the sweet basil. A garden that includes evergreen (and lovely) herbaceous shrubs such as lavender, thyme, and rosemary will yield tasty seasonings you can use year round.
Ready to raid the grocery store or farmer’s market? Here are some key ingredients you’ll want to keep on hand:
- Oranges (or OJ)
- Strawberries, blueberries, apples, peaches, etc.
- Fresh herbs
In a hurry? Mix orange juice, pineapple juice, and ginger ale for a tasty, fizzy drink. (For both kids and adults, using ginger ale instead of soda can really spice up your creations.) Or offer the essence of upscale simplicity – cucumber mint water. Salud!