DIY Summer Drinks
August 4, 2007 2:18 AM   Subscribe

Help me find some awesome DIY-able summer drinks (non-alcoholic)

That Lemonade sidebar, plus the hot and humid Florida summer has me a mean hankering to make some cool, large-batch drinks as a weekend/afternoon project. My shortlist includes trying my hand at some Lemonade (via the sidebar recipe), Ginger Beer, Iced Teas, and Root Beer. I'm looking for nonalcoholic drinks, so most of the previous threads that are similar don't help me much.

Your tips, recipes (esp. for the Ginger Beer), recommendations, and anything else germane are welcomed and encouraged.

Bonus points for anyone who can point to general or specific places in the Tampa Bay Area (or online, if it's really cheap) to get dried hibiscus(jamaica) flowers for brewing.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Elderflower champagne. A lovely, light sophisticated summer drink, although it does take 10-14 day to be ready. (Also, note sure if you have elderflowers in Florida.)
posted by essexjan at 2:25 AM on August 4, 2007

This post from 2005 is also a request for "summer drinks," but has both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 2:52 AM on August 4, 2007

Kombucha, although it does contain a trace amount of alcohol.
posted by hooves at 4:11 AM on August 4, 2007

You might like these soda recipes from Chow (ginger beer and root beer).
posted by waterlily at 4:32 AM on August 4, 2007

Also, glass bottles might look nicer, but if you're making carbonated drinks it's safer to use plastic soda bottles (which have the added bonus of being squeezable so you can check the carbonation level).
posted by waterlily at 4:48 AM on August 4, 2007

I hope that, like a good Tampa resident, you are at subsisting, at least somewhat, on Cuban sandwiches.

Don't discount limeade while you're at it. Limeade is delicious.

Another delicious idea is making strawberry lemonade. Just blend in some good strawberries for excellently tasty pink-colored lemonade.
posted by that girl at 5:12 AM on August 4, 2007

Here's almost the exact same question from a week ago.
posted by MsMolly at 5:31 AM on August 4, 2007

Iced Hot Chocolate
3 ¾ cups whole milk
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
6 ounces imported bittersweet chocolate (use a good quality)(not unsweetened), finely chopped
12 ice cubes

Bring 3 cups of milk, 1/3 cup water, and sugar to a simmer in heavy large saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Refrigerate until well chilled, about 4 hours). Mix ¾ cup milk into chocolate mixture. Working in batches, blend until frothy. Divide ice among 4 glasses. Pour chocolate mixture over and serve. Makes 4 servings.

8 cups cold water
2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (10 to 12 large lemons)
2 cups crushed ice
1 to 1 ½ cups superfine sugar

In two batches, pulse water, lemon juice and ice in a blender, adding sugar to taste. Transfer to a large pitcher and serve immediately, or chill, covered, until ready to serve. Pour into tall glasses over ice.

Summertime Iced Tea
In a cheesecloth, gather all types of herbal teas. Place in bottom of 8-cup container. Pour boiling water over the tea and steep for 10 minutes. Add ¼ cup sugar (more or less to taste). Squeeze the juice of one lemon into mixture. (I also like to cram some fresh mint in the container). Chill. Fill glasses with ice when ready to serve the tea. Pour tea over ice. Serve and enjoy!
posted by Sassyfras at 7:15 AM on August 4, 2007

Here's something I threw together a few days ago. It's more or less a virgin mojito:

Muddle four fresh mint leaves in a tall glass. Add ice. Fill halfway with Odwalla Summertime Lime or the limeade of your choice, top off with seltzer water or club soda. Garnish with more mint leaves, a lime slice, a little drink umbrella, or all three.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 7:38 AM on August 4, 2007

Basil Lemonade

1 cup sugar
1 cup fresh basil leaves, plus 8 sprigs for garnishing
8 cups lemonade

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, bring the sugar and 1 1/2 cups cold water to a simmer. Cook, without stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the basil, and let cool to room temperature. Strain the syrup into a resealable container and discard the solids. Pour 2 to 3 teaspoons of the basil syrup into each of 8 ice-filled glasses, then fill with lemonade. Garnish with an additional sprig of basil. (You can cover and refrigerate the remaining syrup for up to 2 weeks.)
posted by gleea at 8:03 AM on August 4, 2007

ginger iced tea

In a large glass jar, put one large hand of ginger, scrubbed, coarsely chopped, and bruised. (Mashing it into the jar with a wooden spoon is both effective and kinda fun.) Add 4 to 6 tablespoons of loose tea of your choice. I like plain black tea.

Cover with 1 quart water. If you're using filtered water, draw a new batch so it's fresh. Cover tightly and place outdoors in direct sun for about five hours.

Remove cap, strain tea through a fine sieve, dilute with up to 1 quart cold water, and decant into a covered pitcher. Sweeten with simple syrup if desired. Chill thoroughly.

homemade ginger ale

I've been experimenting with David B. Fankhauser's recipe for homemade ginger ale. Rather than grating the ginger, I treated it as in the tea above, by coarsely chopping it and bruising it. I also use simple syrup rather than plain sugar, because it gives me a chance to draw out some of the flavor of the ginger and lemon with residual heat from the cooling syrup.

So, rather than putting dry sugar into the prepared bottle, I put it in a saucepan with 1 cup of the water called for, boil five minutes without stirring, and remove from heat. (You've seen slightly more detailed intructions in my lemonade comment.) While the syrup is still hot, I toss in the chopped ginger root and smash it gently with a potato masher.

When sugar has cooled a bit, add the zest of one lemon. (Again, details are in the lemonade comment.)

Then follow his recipe. So far, I've been happy with the results, though it has a faint beery undertone from the yeast. I can taste the undertone; a friend could not. I plan to experiment with smaller amounts of yeast and possibly with beer or champagne yeasts rather than the baking yeast called for.

Dr. Fankhauser also has a recipe for homemade root beer, though I've not yet made it.

As you will have gathered, I love simple syrup flavored with almost anything and diluted with a mixer. Try this: in a tall glass, squirt a TBS of simple syrup made with orange zest, add the juice of one orange, then fill the glass with ice and club soda or seltzer. Aaaah.

One warning: given an abundance of mint and an upcoming garden party, I made mint simple syrup, thinking I could offer mint seltzers. It was ghastly, tasting fainting of cleanser and faintly of pee, for the over-all experience of bus-station bathroom. Gah.

Lastly: my sidebarred comment is just a few tips, not a proper lemonade recipe. If I get the few minutes to note down and transcribe a proper lemonade recipe to my weblog this weekend, I'll come back here with the details. But the lemon simple syrip should improve any pre-existing lemonade recipe.
posted by Elsa at 8:28 AM on August 4, 2007 [7 favorites]

Two notes:

As Dr. Fankhauser points out, homemade yeast carbonated drinks like root beer and ginger ale will contain trace amounts of alcohol. If you want drinks that contain not even negligible amounts of alcohol, you may need to make the base (e.g., ginger & lemon simple syrup for ginger ale), then add carbonated mixers like seltzer or club soda.

One advantage to yeast-driven carbonation: if your ginger ale goes flat, you can pull the bottle out of the fridge and into a lukewarm water bath for a few hours to reactivate the yeast, which produce more carbonation. I'm quite conservative in this, though, since I don't know enough about the micro-organisms at work to know when they'll tip over from friendly yeast to sick-making yeast.
posted by Elsa at 8:48 AM on August 4, 2007

My current favorite homemade summer beverage is a banana raspberry smoothy:

Peel and cut some ripe bananas into a bowl. Put the bowl in the freezer overnight. (The bananas will keep fine in the freezer for a while)

When you're hot and thirsty, scoop about the equivalent of two bananas into a blender (you may need to microwave the bowl for 20 seconds or so if it's rock hard).

Add a small number of raspberries or strawberries for flavor (too many will overpower the bananas). Add a cup and a half of milk (or water if lactose intolerant), a half teaspoon of vanilla extract and blend.
posted by justkevin at 9:01 AM on August 4, 2007

Cold Season Tea by Yogi Tea makes a really good, unusual iced tea. It contains black pepper and ginger which gives it an interesting bite. Add some honey if you like it sweet. I haven't made it for a few years but I used to make big batches and I think I ended up creating my own concoction after awhile as it is a little pricey if you make a lot of it.
Sorry, I can't remember what all that consisted of except sliced ginger and crushed black pepper corns seemed essential. I may have to go experiment.
posted by BoscosMom at 1:01 PM on August 4, 2007

Watermelon Gin Fizz, without the gin.
posted by rhapsodie at 1:47 PM on August 4, 2007

Since no one answered the hibiscus question: this should be pretty easy to find. Jamaica is a Mexican (Latino) drink, so any grocery store specializing in ingredients for Latino immigrants (gee, do they have any of those in Florida?) will almost surely have it. If you do go to that store, then you might as well also try making Horchata, a spiced drink made from rice and sometimes other nuts, blended with cinnamon and other spices. It's very delicious. They will probably also have mix for making tamarind juice, which is also something you should try.
posted by Deathalicious at 4:02 PM on August 4, 2007

i just had a watermelon slushie that rocked my world.

1 cup of cubed watermelon
1 cup of ice
1/2 cup of some kind of juice (i like passion fruit)


posted by twistofrhyme at 4:29 PM on August 4, 2007

watermelon drinks--like above, but you can just add a bit of honey or some add sugar with the ice. And a sprig of mint if you like, it's SOooo good--refreshing and a great way to get some fruit.
Also try a watermelon shake made with crushed ice and either milk or cream (coconut cream is best)

I also like lime punch that I used to get as a kid in Tennessee--Sprite, Lime juice and lime sherbert.
posted by pywacket at 7:34 PM on August 4, 2007

I would suggest whipping up some Italian Sodas. They're refreshing, easy to make, and are more customizable than a lot of other beverages since you can use whatever flavor syrup you want.
posted by Mael Oui at 8:54 PM on August 4, 2007

A neat early summer drink is mulberry lemonade. By themselves mulberries can be rather insipid but when added to lemonade they add a depth and richness - you may be reminded of red wine.

Go to a black mulberry tree and pick a lot of fruit. Put it into a strainer suspended over a bowl and mash the juice out of them with a big spoon.

Combine mulberry juice with lemonade in whatever proportion to taste.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 10:07 PM on August 4, 2007

Pear nectar and fresh orange juice over ice.
posted by unmake at 6:32 PM on August 6, 2007

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