Cool Drinks for a Hot Fourth Celebration– With or Without Alcohol!!
It’s summer and it’s a holiday weekend and you are going to be seeing a lot of people — both adults and kids — as well as spending the weekend celebrating. While you can drink your sodas and cocktails, you can think about other beverages that are tasty, fun, fruity and suitable for both the small fry as well as the tall fry (adults) and start out as non-alcoholic but can be ‘juiced up” if you want to later on– particularly if you are heading to the beach since many of the So. California beaches are no alcohol zones. (really!! Cities have been banning alcohol to prevent violence and injuries).
The LA Times Food Section featured a a nice story on “Aqua Frescas” which clearly translates as fresh water but is really all about fruity waters that are more than just fruit flavored waters but beverages made out of muddled or macerated fruit blended with other herbs or veggies for a fresh, clean taste that is both refreshing and not overly sweet though sugar is involved but not to a degree of a soda and not merely a flavored water. This is definitely fruit that is transformed into a beverage so expect melons of all types, veggies (cucumber for example), other sweet fruit and others that are a bit on the sour or tart side– like limes, lemons and others.
Watermelon & Lime Aqua Fresca , photo Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times
While you can buy things like Horchatas in your refrigerated juice case at the market, they are the Americanized version unless you check out the Latin American food section of your local market- if they have one. Check out Trader Joes or possibly Cost Plus for other versions of these drinks as they are more likely to have them or even Whole Foods. In case they don’t — or for those adventurous enough to try this, here are a couple of recipes courtesy of the LA Times .
: Agua fresca with watermelon and lime
Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times
: Right now, you can find a pretty watermelon aguas frescas laced with lime.
July 2, 2008
Watermelon lime agua fresca
Total time: 15 minutes
Servings: Makes 2 1/2 quarts
Note: Agave nectar is available at Trader Joe’s stores, Whole Foods, Ralphs and other well-stocked supermarkets.
1 medium seedless watermelon, rind removed and cut into medium pieces (about 6 pounds)
2 tablespoons agave nectar– find this in large supermarkets, big liquor stores, Trader Joes etc. (this is something you would use with the alcoholic beverage I created with Veev)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)
1. In a blender, purée the watermelon with 4 cups of water and the agave nectar, in batches.
2. Strain through a coarse strainer or mesh sieve, discarding any solids. Stir in the lime juice and a generous pinch of sea salt.
3. Adjust the seasoning and consistency to taste: agave nectar for sweetness, lime juice for tartness, sea salt to enhance flavor, and water to thin. Serve over ice. Garnish each glass with a slice of lime, if desired. This will keep for 2 days, refrigerated.
Each 8-ounce serving: 57 calories; 1 gram protein; 15 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 0 fat; 0 saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 7 mg. sodium.
JUICE BAR: Natural summer coolers, clockwise from top: cucumber-lime, watermelon-lime, peach-lavender, and the classic horchata.
As you can see there are unusual blends of herbs, natural essences, even flowers that are more herbal in nature– so think way outside the glass when creating because you can do something amazing like this recipe that the LA Times featured too. This one takes a little less time, obviously it’s more veggie oriented but would be great with a splash of gin or tequila in it.
While you wouldn’t want to drink it all day with alcohol for a understated beverage for a Fourth of July weekend bbq, this is a real winner.
Cucumber-lime agua fresca
Total time: 20 minutes
Servings: Makes 2 quarts
Note: Inspired by Jimmy Shaw, of Loteria Grill. Find agave nectar at Trader Joe’s stores, Whole Foods, Ralphs and other markets.
5 whole cucumbers, coarsely chopped (not peeled or seeded)
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 serrano chile, seeded and minced (or more to taste)
1/8 cup agave syrup
In a blender, in batches, purée the cucumbers with 2 1/4 cups of water, the lime juice, chile, agave syrup and a generous pinch of sea salt on high speed. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer lined with a triple layer of cheesecloth (or use a chinois), discarding the solids. Serve over ice. Keeps 2 days, refrigerated.
Each 8-ounce serving: 19 calories; 0 protein; 5 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 0 fat; 0 saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 36 mg. sodium.
What you can do is substitute cantalope, honeydew or any kind of melon. Think about ripe apricots or juicy peaches, even really ripe strawberries (skip the sugar) and you would be good to go with some adjusting of the recipe. Get creative, get juiced and let me know what you figure out works for you. You can see what I did with my VeeV recipe, I can see adding a small amount of VeeV to one of these as well.
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