Elderflower porch 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

7.18.11 Extremely Cordial

I find that summertime requires its own repertoire of refreshing drinks. Bubbles or not, with or without alcohol, thirst-quenching coolers are essential for those moments by the pool, when you come in from gardening and when you're relaxing on the porch after a long, hot day. I love the idea of taking what you have on hand, what's around in your garden or at the farmers market, and transforming it into something far better than bottled sodas and syrups. (As you reach for your Pepsi or Diet Coke, never forget that it's loaded with sugar, high-fructose corn syrup or the artificial sweeteners that essentially trigger the same insulin response; it has zero nutritional value; and it causes tooth decay.) Sun tea is a great alternative. You just fill a big jug with water and add a few tea bags (herbal, black or green) along with whatever flavorings you like—rosemary and lemon, mint, pineapple sage, ripe strawberries—then let it brew under the hot sun. Try this without the tea for a delicately flavored, herbaceous water. I'm also a big fan of infused simple syrups, which you can easily make with honey or organic cane sugar. To capture one of summer's most ephemeral flavors, gather elderflowers at their peak—they love riverbanks and lush hedgerows along back country roads—and brew up a batch of lightly effervescent, citrusy cordial. It's delicious over ice, topped off with some seltzer and a slice of Meyer lemon, or mixed with gin for a truly relaxing tipple.

Tagged — wildcraft