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Wednesday, July 24

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Saturday was all about working in the yard for us. We started early (9am is early for us on the weekends) to try to beat as much of the heat as possible, and we finished up around 3pm with a very short lunch break that involved eating pizza and drinking margaritas (and lots and lots of water) in the shade. It was good to see our dumpy, icky yard become slightly more the peaceful oasis we dreamt it could be.

But at once point, as I was bent over digging clumps of sod out of the path of our paving stones, I had a flash of a Tom and Jerry cartoon with the song "How Dry I Am" being sung by a drunken and wobbly cartoon cat and mouse. And the more I thought about the song, the more thirsty I became. The quart of ice water I drank shortly thereafter did far more to slake my thirst than the margarita did, but oh the sweet, salty tartness was refreshing.

Which brings me to the subject of today's column: Summertime Drinks. Sure, we drink things all year round, but come summer our desire for refreshing and flavorful beverages (that may or may not be spiked to appeal to the adults in the crowd) gets cranked up proportionally to the mercury. There honestly is something perfect about a hot taco and a cold beer on a hot afternoon in the sun. But if you're tired of the beer and wine route, hopefully one of these recipes will give you an idea on how to keep your body hydrated and your thirst satiated.

First, I'd like to remind you to take a peek at the Liquado column I wrote last year about this time. It's great to turn fresh fruit into refreshing beverages.

So without further ado, you'll find recipes for Margaritas, White Wine Spritzers, Horchata and a Yuzu Sake drink below.

The classic summertime drink. Since you're just as likely to make these for a large group as you are to make these for yourself, remember the proportion of 3:2:1. Three parts of Tequila, two parts of Triple Sec (Cointreau or Grand Marnier are options) and one part of freshly squeezed lime juice. And since the lime juice is the hardest part to get exact, start with that and then double it for the Triple Sec and triple it for the Tequila. One lime per drink is about right.

2/3 of an ounce of lime juice (juice from one lime)
1 1/3 of Triple Sec
2 ounces of Tequila

Add the contents to a shaker filled halfway with ice. Shake several times and then strain into a glass. Shaking it with the ice will cool the drink quickly and make it slightly frothy.

If you feel that it's a bit strong, you can either drop a bit of an ice cube in to let it melt and thin the drink out. With cheaper tequilas, I think this helps mellow the flavor. And the salt on a rim often helps hide the bitterness from cheap tequila. If you want to get that cool salted rim on your glass, cut a slit in a lime slice and run it along the edge of the glass before upending it into a bowl of margarita salt. This will make the salt stick much better than simple water will.

White Wine Spritzers
This sounds so pansy and wimpy, but in reality it's a great way to get some water with your wine so you don't wake up the following morning hot and hung over. It's also a great way to drink that leftover white wine you weren't thrilled about being left with.

2 ounces of white wine
4 ounces of seltzer (soda water, club soda, sparkling water, etc.)

Pour the wine into the glass first and then add the seltzer. This should "stir" the drink as you pour. Do not shake this drink. The carbonation will create a mess. And, if you're counting calories this summer, keep in mind that this drink has about 40 calories each. So you can have four drinks in one evening and still consume less than 100 calories. Ha! Take that snack fairy! If you want to add a little more flavor, gently squeeze a fresh raspberry, blackberry or strawberry slice and drop it into your drink.

This milky white drink actually contains no milk and is great with or without rum.

1/3 cup of white rice
1 cinnamon stick
zest from 1/2 of a lime
1/2 cup of white sugar

Place the dry rice in your blender or food processor. Pulse until smooth. Place the rice, cinnamon stick and lime in a saucepan and add 4 cups of water, then cover with a lid. Bring it up to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and let it cook for 30 minutes. The liquid should be fairly thick because of the rice soaking up the liquid. Remove the cinnamon stick. Let it cool for 30 minutes and then add 1 cup of ice water to lower the temperature. Place half of the mixture into the blender and puree for about 3-5 minutes, or until the mixture seems very smooth. Repeat with the other half of the mixture. Line a strainer with two or three layers of wet cheesecloth and place this over a bowl or wide-mouth pitcher. Pour the blender contents through the strainer and squeeze the rice pulp left behind to remove as much of the liquid as possible. Return the liquid to the blender and add 1/2 cup of white sugar, plus a little more cold water if it seems too thick. Pulse a few times, then taste before adding more sugar. You can also add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. This should keep for several days in the refrigerator. Mix 1/2 to 3/4 cup of horchata with 1 ounce of white rum and serve over ice. This makes 6-8 servings.

Yuzu Sake Drink
A few months ago I was lucky enough to try a sushi roll at Tanoshii (5547 N. Clark St.) that used yuzu juice in the sauce. It was perfectly complementary to the Asian pear, mango and fish contained in the roll. And I thought, as I licked the last of the sauce off my lips, "This will make a great summertime cocktail." And what do you know, it does! Yuzu tastes very strong and citrusy, like a blend of lemon and lime juice. It also has a slight tendency to be bitter so balancing it with some sugar is a nice way to round it out.

1/2 cup of sugar
1 cups of water
4 sprigs of mint leaves
4 1/4" thick slices of ginger
1 5-ounce bottle of yuzu juice (This can be found at a Japanese grocer; a Korean grocer may call it yuja or citron juice. Be sure to get unsalted juice.)
1 15-ounce bottle of sake (Gekkeikan Sake is most likely what you'll find at a grocery store, but any inexpensive dry sake will do)

Combine the sugar, water, mint and ginger in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves completely. Pour into a glass jar and let it steep overnight. Remove the mint and ginger. Add in the yuzu and the sake. Taste and add more water if it seems too strong or too tart. Pour over ice and serve to six or eight of your friends.

I also have a bottle of watermelon syrup that I bought last summer thinking I would find something to do with it. But it's so sweet and so lurid that it just doesn't seem appealing. But I think I'll find something to do with it, just so it frees up space in my cupboard and stops weighing down my conscience about letting good artificial food coloring and flavoring go to waste.

Is there a drink that you find yourself turning to when the weather is warm? Share it in the comments.

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MMG / June 19, 2007 12:49 PM

I am so inspired by this column! Good work! I already had plans to make carne asada and roasted poblano pepper tacos tonight for dinner. But now I know what to make for a drink: horchata!

I also think that I'll be trying that recipe for Yuzu Sake by the end of the week, too! (Fine Wine Brokers on Lincoln Ave was advertising sake yesterday . . .)

ohk / June 19, 2007 1:36 PM

My wine spritzer recipe consists of about 1/2 (cheap) white wine, 1/4 club soda and 1/4 lemonade.

Even pansier than yours but sooo good when it's really hot out!

Nuke LaLoosh / June 20, 2007 2:06 PM

Is it too easy to say a Classic Pimm's Cup? My absolute favorite.

1. Fill a Tom Collins glass 3/4 up with ice;

2. fill glass 1/4 to 1/3 of the Glass with Pimm's No. 1 Cup.

3. Fill up the remaining 3/4 to 2/3 of the glass with a citrusy mixer -- lemonade or lemon/lime soda are popular, though I'm partial to Fresca, ginger ale, or, my real favorite, Squirt.

4. If it pleases your palate, you can add a few sprigs of crushed mint -- it is really tasty.

5. Garnish with a wedge or disc of cool cucumber.

FWIW, Wikipedia sez -- "Pimm's №1, a gin-based beverage that can be served both on ice or in cocktails. The recipe of Pimm's №1 is secret; it has a dark tea colour with a reddish tint, and tastes subtly of spice and citrus fruit. A close approximation to Pimm's №1 can be prepared by mixing one measure of gin with one Orange Curacao and one red Vermouth."

Pimm's No. 1 is readily found at any Binny's or Sam's. I have had trouble finding it at my corner liquor store, though.

Nuke LaLoosh / June 20, 2007 2:11 PM

Also FWIW, here is a link to a nice article about the virtues of the Classic Pimm's Cup:

Nuke LaLoosh / June 20, 2007 2:11 PM

Also FWIW, here is a link to a nice article about the virtues of the Classic Pimm's Cup:

lena / June 20, 2007 2:12 PM

ooh, these all look so yummy. my husband always laughs at me because when i am really hot in the summer, i always says, "honey, only beer can quench this thirst." once when my gma and i were doing all this yardwork and were so hot, i was going in to get water she said that and i never will forget it!
i also like a gin and ginger ale with real old fashioned ginger ale in the summer.

Jill / June 21, 2007 9:59 AM

I just got back from Vienna, where I enjoyed a nice variation on the wine spritzer: white wine, champagne, and soda.

J D / June 24, 2007 11:51 PM

Its a little "Snoop", but its damn good and very refreshing!
Also very simple.
Gin and Squirt. Adjust gin to Squirt ratio as you see fit. Serve over ice. Other variations are, gin and Diet Squirt, 50/50, or Fresca. Really ANY citrus flavored beverage.
Add lime, orange, or lemon zest if culinarily inclined. And if you really want to cool down, a little vanilla ice cream goes a long way!


About the Author(s)

Cinnamon Cooper is an untrained cook. Most of what she's learned has been by accident. The rest has been gained by reading cookbooks, watching The Food Network and by scouring the Internet. Oh, and she also hates following recipes but loves the irony of writing them down for others to follow.

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