summer in a drinker

juniper

 

Certain scents and flavors are unmistakable and just seem to invoke a particular season.   Few things say “summer” to me as much as lime and mint.   I love to have a bowl of limes (and lemons) in my kitchen at all times.  I use the zest and the juice in many dishes and beverages. There’s something about fresh citrus that really brings flavors to life.

A little over five years ago, I planted a large pot of mint on my patio.  As herbs go, it is easy to grow and very hardy in the Pacific Northwest.  In late fall, I completely cut the mint down to a few inches above the soil.  Each spring and summer for the past five years, I have been rewarded with a lush pot of mint.  This year the stems were well over 18 inches tall!  I use fresh mint in salads, cocktails, water, and tea.  As a garnish, fresh mint adds just the right amount of flourish to a variety of desserts like key lime pie and strawberry shortcake.  A sprig of mint and a fresh raspberry resting atop a frosted cupcake are simply a match made in heaven.

One of my favorite, go-to recipes for summer combines lime and mint.  It is a mojito-style drink that is delicious with our without spirits.  (As a hostess, I think it is really nice to be able to offer a “special” drink to those that don’t wish to consume alcohol.)  I blend up several batches of the mint-lemonade and then mix the drinks to order, as guests arrive.  Here’s the recipe:

Summer Mojitos

1 12-oz. can of lemonade concentrate, frozen

1 large bunch (12-15 stems) of mint, tops cut off and reserved for garnishing

Lemon-lime sparkling water, such as Talking Rain

Sliced strawberries for garnish

Lime wedges

Rum, tequila or vodka (optional)

 

1. Wash mint in a bowl of warm, salted water.  Rinse several times in cold water.

2.  Pinch off the top leaves of each mint stem, and reserve for garnish

3.  In a blender, combine the frozen lemonade concentrate, washed mint (stems and leaves) and 12 oz. of cold water.

4.  Blend on high for 2-3 minutes.

5. When the mixture is well blended, turn the blender off and let the mixture sit for approximately 5 minutes.

6.  Spoon off and discard the excess mint, which will rise to the top of the blended mixture.

7.  Pour the remaining mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove any large pieces of mint.

8.  To assemble the drink:  Add ice to your drinker or wine glass.  Squeeze a lime wedge over the ice and add the wedge to the glass.  If using alcohol, add 1.5 ounces of white rum, tequila or vodka.  Add 2 ounces of mint-lemonade mix.  Add 1-2 ounces of sparkling water.  Stir to combine.  (If you omit the alcohol, mix 2/3 mint-lemonade mix with 1/3 sparkling water.)

9.  Garnish with a mint sprig and a sliced strawberry.

10.  Store any left over mint-lemonade in a glass container in the refrigerator.  It will keep for up to 5 days.  Shake well before using.

I hope you enjoy this mojito-style treat.  With our without alcohol, it is refreshing on a balmy summer night.  This beverage is a triple threat:  it smells good, looks amazing and will delight your palate.  Cheers to the unmistakable tastes of summer!