What’s a pregnant lady to do? The first tinge of real summer is coming on, and all my favorite drinks — cocktails, white wine, iced coffee, soda — are all either verboten or almost so. Good old H2O will take care of my hydration needs, of course, but woman cannot live on plain water alone.
To broaden my horizons, I invited family over a few weeks ago for a round of burgers and some mad scientist mocktail mixology. I pre-made several simple syrups; pulled out some olives, pickles and hot sauce; and purchased soda and tonic water as mixers. Then, we spent the time we would have otherwise wasted waiting for the grill to heat up by adding a dash of this and a splash of that until each drink was perfect.
Whether you’re expecting, under age or just trying to lay off the hard stuff, these nonalcoholic drinks are sure to add variety to you summer thirst quenching needs.
Homemade Ginger Ale
3 inch nub of fresh ginger
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
Rosemary sprig (optional for garnish)
Slice the ginger into thin rounds, then toss it in a saucepan with the water and sugar. Gently boil the water, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat and let the ginger steep for another 30 minutes or so before carefully fishing out the slices with a fork. Allow the syrup to cool completely, and store in the fridge where it will keep for several months.
To make the drink, mix 2 parts soda water with 1 part syrup, and mix really well. I like to add a rosemary sprig as a garnish (an idea I’ve stolen from the lovely bartenders at 715 Restaurant) because the woody smell is a nice contrast to the sweetness of the ginger syrup.
Spicy Pickle Shooter
1 cucumber (which will make 1/2 cup juice)
A few drops of Sriracha or other hot sauce
Pickles or olive (optional for garnish)
This is my answer to cravings for a salty, dirty martini. It’s not the same, but it’s definitely a friendly cousin.
Start by slicing a cucumber into chunks. Then, liquefy it using a food processor, blender or stick blender. Working over a large bowl, pour the cucumber puree into a clean dish towel and squeeze so that the juice is released, but the pulp remains behind. Discard the pulp, and refrigerate the juice for no more than a day or two. (After that it will separate into something that looks like alien sludge.)
To make the drink, fill a shot glass 3/4 full with cucumber juice, and add a dash of olive juice and a few drops of Sriracha. Plop an olive or a pickle slice in the bottom as a surprise snack for the end of the shot.
Raspberry Sharab el Toot
6 ounces raspberries
1 tablespoon sugar (or more if the berries aren’t great)
In Lebanon, people make a drink called “Sharab el Toot” by mixing mulberry simple syrup and cold water. If you have a mulberry tree, feel free to use mulberries — the process is exactly the same — but raspberries are a yummy substitute.
To make the raspberry simple syrup, add the berries to a medium saucepan with just enough water to cover. Add a tablespoon of sugar and bring to a boil, allowing the sugar to dissolve. Let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes before running it through a fine mesh sieve to strain away the berries. Let the syrup cool and store in the fridge. While this syrup could theoretically last longer, because I make it with so little sugar I try to use it up within a week.
To make the drink, fill a glass with ice and pour tonic water almost to the top. Add 3-4 tablespoons of the raspberry syrup to taste, and stir well.
Orange Blossom Lemonade
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Juice of 2 lemons
1/2 cup orange blossom water
I intended to make rose water lemonade for this one, but when I visited Aladdin’s Cafe to pick up a bottle of rose water the owner strongly suggested I use orange blossom water, instead. I decided to trust the expert and I was glad I did.
For this drink, you’ll start by making a lemonade concentrate. Add the sugar and water to a saucepan and boil until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon juice and let the water boil for another minute or so, stirring all the while. Last, add the orange blossom water and remove the pan from the heat. Store in the fridge for no more than a week.
To make a glass of lemonade, fill a tall glass —or a mason jar, for real kitsch — with ice. Add plain water until the glass is 3/4 full, then top with the lemonade concentrate and stir well.
— Meryl Carver-Allmond lives in Lawrence and writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day at mybitofearth.net.