Hot enough for you?
Only a few days of above 90-degree weather can lead Coloradans to start asking one another that question. And if we’re not asking that, we’re hearing the drumbeat in our own heads: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate — and oh, throw a sports drink in there among your seems-like-a-million ounces of water.
But that’s not fun; it’s just survival. And when berries and cherries and melons are flooding farmers markets and roadside fruit stands, a tall glass of cool, fresh summer is as easy as mixing fruit and selzer, or fruit and soda, or juice and vinegar, or your favorite light spirits.
Fill a pitcher or glass with these coolers for starters, but feel free to create your own sweet, tart, or sweet-tart refreshers. Just a note: We’re conditioned to expect sugary-sweet drinks, so to some tasters, the tang of vinegar in a switchel tastes of betrayal. Our apple-pear switchel recipe delighted two out of three testers and made the other pull a face (and we were grown-ups). Taste as you go and add the sour flavors gradually; it’s easier to add more than to scale up a whole batch.
And if your crowd likes switchel, throw an afternoon switchel party! Have each attendee bring different flavors of seltzer and vinegar and a type of fruit, plus a pitcher and their own shot glass. line them up and experiment. You could even create a prize for best and worst concoctions and people’s choice. But don’t sweat the details.
Made in the Shade Berry Cooler
This cooler can be made with any dark, tart berries — black or red raspberries, blackberries, mulberries, or a mix. If you want to really get fancy, freeze perfect berries in ice cubes in advance; if you want a non-alcoholic cooler, omit the step of muddling the gin a day before; instead, add well-mashed berries to the glass. Makes 1 12-ounce glass or a 2-quart pitcher.
- 2 ounces (glass) or 8 ounces (pitcher) mulberry-flavored or other gin (or tonic)
- ½ cup (glass) or 2 cups (pitcher) dark, tart berries, divided
- 8 ounces (glass) or 1 quart (pitcher) tonic
- More berries (for garnish)
- Sweet citrus wedge and zest (for garnish)
First, combine half of the berries with the gin in an air-tight glass jar. Muddle the berries (mash a bit with a spoon or spatula) and allow to sit for a day.
Add the second half of the berries to a glass or a 2-quart pitcher. Add ice to fill each glass or the pitcher by a third; stir to muddle berries. Add 2 (glass) or 8 ounces (pitcher) of the berry gin. Add tonic water to fill glasses. Garnish, if desired, with more berries on top and a slice of orange, blood orange or grapefruit along with a strip of zest.
Apple Pear Switchel
This recipe is most easily made right before serving, in the glass, but make one glass first so that you can adjust the sweet-sour balance as you go. The vinegar in it is great for clearing a dusty hike or afternoon gardening out of your throat. Makes four 12-ounce glasses
- 2 Bosc or other variety pear, half cut in wedges, half in slices (for garnish)
- 8 ounces apple juice, chilled, divided
- 1 quart seltzer (lime flavors work well), chilled, divided
- 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, divided
- 4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, divided
- Borage flowers, optional, for garnish
Add 2 pear wedges to the first glass and muddle. Add ice to fill one-third full. Add 6 ounces lime seltzer, then 2 ounces of apple juice. Stir.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of the two vinegars in each glass; taste and add vinegar or apple juice to adjust the sweet-sour balance. Repeat in the three other glasses. Garnish with pear slices and borage flowers.
Blueberry Ginger Lemonade
If you want to make this drink an alcoholic one, add blueberry or unflavored vodka or white rum. Makes 4 12-ounce glasses or a 2-quart pitcher.
- 1 pint blueberries
- 2 large or four small, juicy lemons (or more)
- 32 ounces ginger beer or ginger ale, divided
Add 1/4 cup blueberries to each of four glasses or the bottom of pitcher. Muddle slightly. Squeeze 1/2 large or 1 small lemon into each of four 12-ounce glasses or all the lemons into the pitcher. Add ice to fill 1/3 full; add ginger ale to about an inch from the top of the glasses or 3 inches from the top of the pitcher. Add alcohol if desired; stir. Taste and add more lemon if desired. Garnish glasses or pitcher with additional blueberries or thread fruit on a skewer as a garnish.
Sweet Cherry-Vanilla Lemonade
We have lemons, so why not use them? And you’re not a Coloradan if you don’t eat Western Slope cherries. This recipe is pretty in a glass pitcher; sweet cherries and vanilla cut the sourness of the lemon juice. We’ve minimized the sugar, but add more if desired or sugar the rim of the glass. To make this a cocktail, add Leopold Bros. Cherry Liqueur or white rum if you don’t want to change the pretty color. Makes a 2-quart pitcher.
- Juice of 6 medium-sized, juicy lemons (about 1 cup), chilled
- 6 cups cold water
- 1 cup sugar (more if desired)
- 1 cup sweet cherries, pitted and chopped into pea-sized pieces
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 additional lemons for garnish or seasoning correction
- Stemmed cherries for garnish
Add 2 cups of ice to a 2-quart pitcher. Combine all ingredients; stir until sugar is dissolved. Taste; add more sugar or lemon if desired. Pour into glasses; garnish with lemon slices, lemon zest or stemmed cherries.
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