Maurice Alexander | Tue, 2 Jun 2020
How beautiful the past week has been. The azure sky and the warming sun provided several opportunities to make some invigorating refreshments for enjoyment in the garden, with or without guests.
I must preface the delivery of these flavoursome drinks with some general advice. All glassware must rest in the freezer for an hour before they are to be used by anyone so you can maximise the longevity of the drinks’ chill. This is far superior to using ice, as the ice will quickly melt in the unforgiving summer heat diluting the strength of whatever drink you’re serving.
A second general point of advice of summer drinks is to not use frozen fruit for décor. Frozen raspberries may look beautiful whilst they are covered in glistening frost, but turn into slime once they have defrosted, ruining any visual allure they would have provided; fresh produce or nothing.
The third and final note should be that only mineral water is used. Scottish water fresh from the kitchen tap is pleasant to drink as it is, but mineral water contained within a sealed bottle is a true blank canvas upon which the vibrant colours of Summer ingredients should be painted.LEMONADE
The classic Summer refreshment.
250ml Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
100g Caster Sugar
600ml Mineral Water
Normally I suggest only unwaxed lemons, lemons without the applied wax coating to prolong their shelf life, and indeed I would remain steadfast in my purchasing habits as you don’t what else you may use one of the yellow fruits for, but seeing that this recipe calls for their acerbic juice only, the more readily available waxed lemons will be suitable as well.
As the flesh of a lemon can be quite dry and others bursting with their soft-yellow blood, I’d recommend getting 10 to 15 of them, about 3 or bags, just to get just under or over the 250ml mark. During typical recipes, I normally just slice the fruit in half and disembowel it with my hand out of practicality, but doing so for fifteen lemons would be torturous and invite early-onset arthritis, so employ the help of some kitchen equipment.
Notable culinary helpers are citrus juicers. These can be low-tech items like the common glass plate, with a large central spike surrounded by a ring of smaller sharp teeth onto which the cut face of the lemon is forcibly pressed and twisted. The resulting juice is collected in the surrounding depression to be poured. High-tech helpers would be mechanical juicer; tall appliances with a large central column into which the fruit are dropped, instantly rendered into a liquid by the innards of the machine. These remove burden of physical labour required for hand juicing, but can be expensive, especially if you want one to minimize noise.
With the juice, pour all 250mls into a small saucepan with the 100g of caster sugar and a teaspoon of Vanilla Extract. The vanilla should always be of the highest quality, especially if unadulterated in drinks, so make it Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Extract for that full-bodied vanilla flavour. Avoid essences as they are chemicals attempting to mimic the flavour and avoid using vanilla paste or the contents of a vanilla pod for this recipe or drink recipes in general. This is because it is unsightly to see black speckles suspended throughout a liquid, whereas you get the same authentic vanilla note with extract that seamlessly melts into the body of the drink. Boil them together for a minute and pass through a fine mesh sieve to catch sugar crystals and the odd vessel of lemon-flesh. Allow to cool before pouring int medium pitcher filled with the 600ml of mineral water decanted from a sealed bottle.
As a final touch, you can add a few drops of food colouring to imbue it with a stronger colour and drop in a few fruits to give it a fashionable appearance fit for Instagram. I usually go for pink colouring with a few fresh raspberries (never use frozen as they become slime when they fully defrost), yellow colouring paired with lemon wedges, or green colouring with lime wedges. Each combination is fun and has that enticing Summery aesthetic that your guests will simply adore.ROSE LEMONADE
Lemonade, as delicious and refreshing as it is, can become old-hat once the Summer progresses and you are own your fourth or fifth garden party. This floral varient is the perfect solution to keep yourself and your guests keen for the next flavour experience.
250ml Mineral water
200g Granulated Sugar
250ml Lemon Juice
1Litre Mineral Water
1 teaspoon of Rosewater
In a small saucepan, create the sugar syrup by bringing the first lot of 250ml of mineral water to the boil with the 200g of granulated sugar for 5 minutes before removing it from the heat and allowing it to cool completely. Be sure to cover it with the lid of the saucepan or if you decant it into a bowl, with a sheaf of aluminium foil or cling-film to prevent dust or the overly-curious fly falling into it. Despite being given the title ‘syrup’, a sugar syrup is just a slightly heavy combination of sugar and water, nothing like the immovable gel consistency of the popular ‘Lyle’s Golden Syrup’ that we’re all familiar with. So do not be afraid if you think that its too thin and watery- always remember, it has to be thin enough to easily dissolve into chilled water.
In a large pitcher, pour in the litre of chilled mineral water, the freshly squeezed lemon juice and the teaspoon of rosewater, mixing to combine, continuing to mix as you slowly pour in half of the sugar syrup from a great height. Take a tablespoonful of the liquid and taste, adding more lemon, mineral water, rosewater and/or sugar syrup until it is to your liking.WATERMELONADE
A entirely new serving to offer when you’ve well and truly had your fair share of citrus drinks. Cooling and delightfully fresh, watermelonade is the beverage to lifts your spirits up and out from amongst the languid dog day heat.
400g of deseeded flesh from a watermelon
4tbsp of lemon juice or lime juice, or a mix of both
1 tablespoon of caster sugar
200ml chilled mineral water
100g of ice cubes
Dash of sugar syrup
Two large shots of vodka (optional)
Watermelons are readily available at all well-stocked supermarkets, but if you have a greengrocer near you that is much easier for you to get to, simply ask him or her for one and in a day or two he’ll have it read for you, chilled and all- if you were to request it. Another request that you could make to him would be for it to be peeled and deseeded. However, if he were to decline that extra step or you were to buy a whole watermelon from a supermarket, as they are always sold whole and unpeeled, you will have to peel it yourself.
Fear not, this is not to be dreaded as it could not be easier. All you need is a large serrated knife (a knife with teeth). Simply lay the watermelon sideways can cut off either end and turn it vertically to stand on one of the cut ends. By severing both ends, one acts as a structural stabiliser and the other allows you to position your knife to in deskinning the watermelon. Embed the knife just under were the crimson flesh meets the white pith on the top wound and with a back and forth motion with slight, downward pressure, follow the shape of the fruit. Repeat this motion to reveal the scarlet body of the watermelon.
Discard the watermelon’s green armour and lay the red cadaver horizontally on the choppiing board. Cut it into half-an-inch-thick slices from above which will reveal its seeds, removing them with the downward motion of a tablespoon. The watermelon is now ready for use in this recipe. For the sugar syrup. you can either prepare a new batch like for the previous Lemonade recipe or you can just use whats left over from that recipe if you prepared it a day or two before.
With that laborious job out of the way, you will be pleased to hear that all that’s required for you to do now is placed all the ingredients into a blender, decant into a pitcher and chill in the fridge before serving.