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Your recipes for summer coolers
Earlier this month, a group of Canadian uniformed officials descended on a roadside lemonade stand with flashing lights and bureaucratic frowns, because the owners – Ottawan siblings Adela and Eliza Andrews, aged five and seven respectively – had failed to secure a permit. Ottawa’s been known as the city that fun forgot since the late 1960s and this sorry tale only reinforces that reputation. Who in their right minds sees two kids in pink sundresses – all gappy smiles and floppy hats – selling pop they’ve made themselves, and doesn’t promptly pull up a chair and have a glass? That Canadian National Capital Commission’s gloomy outlook on life in general notwithstanding, homemade soft drinks are a marker of happy times. We urge you to get muddling.
The winning recipe Mandarin-basil shrub
I love that this is called a shrub. I love that it requires vinegar. And I love that ColonialCravings has opted for the unexpected citrus, and the unsuspecting herb.
Serves 10-12 For the shrub
2 mandarins 20g basil leaves 100g sugar 120ml white wine vinegar
For the cooler
40g demerara sugar 120g basil leaves plus extra small leaves, to garnish 1.5-1.7 litres cold soda water, to taste A few slices of mandarin (optional) 1 To make the shrub, remove the zest from the mandarins, trying to keep the amount of white pith to a minimum. Muddle the zest thoroughly with the basil and the sugar before covering and leaving it for 1 hour (this allows the sugar to extract the citrus oils from the zest).
2 Squeeze the juice from the fruit and combine it with the oily sugar mix and vinegar. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then strain the liquid into a clean jar and give it a good shake. Put the shrub in a cool, dark spot and leave it for a couple of days for the flavours to mellow and mingle together.
3 When it is ready, store it in the fridge until you want to use it – the sugar and vinegar combined with the cold of the fridge should keep it fresh for a long time.
4 To make the cooler, muddle the sugar with the basil in a jug. Add the shrub, then add the soda water slowly, so it keeps its fizz. Add a few slices of
mandarin, if using. Serve in glasses with a garnish of small basil leaves.
Louise Johnson’s chai syrup in cold milk is all kinds of excellent: warm, creamy, sweet and cool, all at once.
500ml water 4 black tea bags 3 cardamom pods 6 cloves 1 tsp fennel seeds 225g caster sugar
1 Bring the water to the boil in a saucepan, add the teabags and spices, then simmer for 5 minutes.
2 Take the teabags out and throw them away, then add the sugar. Turn up the heat and boil until the syrup is reduced by half. Cool, then strain out the spices. The syrup keeps for a couple of weeks in the fridge.
3 Dilute with water to taste, but start with 1 in 10 or weaker – it’s strong.
sometimes uses this as a mixer for vodka or gin, but I found the bitterness of the grapefruit and the heat of the chilli enough of a buzz.
Juice of 1 grapefruit A handful of crushed ice 1 chilli, finely sliced A few mint leaves 1
Blend the grapefruit juice with crushed ice, the chilli and a few mint leaves, then serve.
Plum and ginger muddle
Such a pretty tumbler, Anna Thomson, and such delicate flavours. This is one to drink by the gallon. To make your own plum syrup, boil some plums in a little water until mushy (about 20 minutes) then strain in a colander overnight. Measure the resulting juice and add the same volume of sugar (plus 1 tsp of lemon juice for every cup of juice) and bring to the boil, then set aside to cool.
Makes 1 litre
2 ginger tea bags 500ml boiling water 2 ripe plums 2cm knob of ginger, grated Ice 1-2 tbsp plum syrup 500ml sparkling water Mint leaves and slices of ginger, to garnish
1 Infuse the ginger tea in 500ml boiling water, then leave to cool completely.
2 Slice the plums and muddle in the grated ginger.
3 Add some ice to a jug with the plums (I like to keep the grated ginger bits, but you can strain them out later, if preferred). Pour the tea over the top.
4 Sweeten to taste with the plum syrup, and top up with sparkling water.
5 Garnish with mint leaves and slices of ginger.
I know this was meant to be a soft-drink swap, but Rachel Kelly’s submission had me reaching for a bottle of bubbles. And what a fine drink this was – boldly sweetened and blushing like a secret.
350g cherries, pitted, 12 cherries reserved and frozen 175g caster sugar 200ml water 1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped 1 bottle of sparkling mineral water (or sparkling wine), chilled
1 Blitz the pitted cherries in a food processor until coarsely chopped.
2 Add them to a saucepan along with the sugar, water and ginger. Heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool a little, then blend again in the food processor. Strain to remove any stringy bits, then set aside to cool.
3 To serve, divide the cherry syrup among 6 glasses. Top up with chilled mineral water (or sparkling wine). Serve immediately, topped with a couple of frozen cherries.
Orange watermelon freeze
Exactly as sweet and as satisfactory as
Jan Costea’s wonderfully concise list of ingredients suggests.
225g watermelon cubes, frozen 120ml orange juice, freshly squeezed 2 tbsp honey A splash of orange juice and caster sugar, for decorating the glasses
1 Blend ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into a glass rimmed with sugar (dip the rim of the glass into orange juice, then into caster sugar).
LaCoccinelle rustled up a 1950s Egyptian childhood memory with this handmade pop. I found that this much lime zest made it a little too bitter, so added some honey. You might prefer to up the sugar content.
Juice and zest of 8 limes, plus 1 lime, thinly sliced 25g sugar, or more to taste 1 litre soda or sparkling water
1 Heat the juice, zest and sugar together – without boiling – until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat, add the water and set aside to cool in the fridge.
2 Serve over ice with slices of lime or with ice-cream.
Tynegal’s cooler makes a lovely breakfast drink – pink and perky.
500ml pineapple juice 100ml coconut milk 2 ripe apricots A handful of strawberries 1 Whizz everything together in a blender and serve over ice-cubes.