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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.