Homemade Almond Milk

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This almond milk is incredibly easy to make, contains no sugar, and is absolutely delicious. I first concocted this rich refresher last year when I was trying to return to cleaner eating habits and ended up enjoying this by itself as a dessert.

With only four ingredients, this almond milk is a breeze — and much healthier than the additive laced versions you’ll find in the grocery store. Make sure you use raw almonds (instead of roasted) to achieve the right flavor.

Homemade almond milk

Ingredients:

1 cup raw almonds
5 cups filtered water, plus more for soaking
4 plump Medjool dates, pitted
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
sea salt

1. In a bowl, cover the almonds with water and let stand overnight in the refrigerator.

2. Drain and rinse the almonds; transfer to a blender. Add the dates, cinnamon, 5 cups of water and a pinch of salt to the blender and puree on high speed until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Pour the nut milk through a cheesecloth-lined fine sieve set over a bowl and let drain for 30 minutes. Using a spatula, press on the solids to extract any remaining milk; discard the solids. Transfer the nut milk to an covered container and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes. Stir or shake before serving.

Maple-Bourbon Smash

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Part Canadian, part American, I came up with this drink when I was visiting Calgary. It’s the perfect cocktail to warm up with and as fall approaches, it’s time to break out the maple syrup and return to this citrusy recipe.

Maple-bourbon smash

Ingredients:

1/2 ounce pure maple syrup
1/2 ounce fresh orange juice
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 orange wheel
1/2 lemon wheel
2 ounces bourbon whiskey
Ice
1 1/2 ounces seltzer

1. In a glass, combine the maple syrup with the orange juice and lemon juice. Add the orange wheel and lemon wheel and lightly muddle. Add the bourbon and stir. Fill the glass with ice and top with the seltzer.

Watermelon Agua Fresca

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Autumn may be in full swing, but lately I’ve been craving summer foods. One can only eat so many yams and butternut squash, right? I want melons. Watermelons, to be exact. I made this agua fresca a few times this past summer, and even though it’s cold out now, there’s really no wrong time to make this drink. It’s healthy, refreshing, and takes only minutes to blend.

Watermelon agua fresca

Ingredients:

1/2 watermelon
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup lime juice
10 mint leaves
2 1/2 cups water

1. Cut off and discard the watermelon rind. Cut the watermelon into large cubes, removing any seeds.

2. Put half of the watermelon in a blender, along with half the sugar, half the lime juice, half the mint leaves, and half the water. Blend until you have a smooth puree. Transfer the puree to another container and repeat with the remaining watermelon, sugar, lime juice, mint leaves, and water.

3. Strain the puree over a pitcher, discarding the solids. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

Thai Basil Gimlet

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I used to hate gin. It tastes like liquid bark, and who wants to drink bark? It wasn’t until I tasted a gimlet that I learned to love the libation, and this summer, I experimented with different versions. Cucumber gimlets, albaloo (sour Persian cherry) gimlets, you name it. This Thai basil gimlet is my favorite: herbal, tart, and complementary to the strong flavor of gin.

Thai basil gimlets

Ingredients:

7 large Thai basil leaves
1 3/4 ounces gin
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup

1. Put 6 basil leaves in a cocktail shaker and press them with a muddler or a wooden spoon. Add the gin, lime juice and simple syrup. Fill with ice, shake vigorously and strain into a small chilled glass over ice. Garnish with the remaining basil leaf.

Kumquat Digestif

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I’ll be honest. The reason why I made this digestif to begin with is because it looked so pretty. Bright orange kumquats floating in a pool of vodka – in a gorgeous decanter, no less. I adapted this recipe from Sunset magazine, but with a few tweaks. Less sugar, more kumquats, and I doubled the batch.

I haven’t used this as a digestif, either. Served on the rocks or with a bit of seltzer, it makes a great before-dinner drink. Play around with the recipe as you wish; I might make it with Meyer lemons the next time around.

Kumquat Digestif

Ingredients:
3/4 cup sugar
4 cups vodka
20 kumquats, cut in half lengthwise
7 small branches fresh thyme

1. In a medium saucepan, heat sugar with 3/4 cup water, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Let cool to room temperature.

2. Stir in vodka. Pour mixture into a decanter and add kumquats (halves first) and thyme. Chill at least 3 weeks. Serve ice-cold, in shot glasses, or in a tumbler over ice.