Meyer Lemonade – A Refreshing Cocktail

I know, I know. In food-blog land right now it’s all about picking apples and pumpkin everything. And yet, why am I doing a post on a lemon cocktail? Well, it may be autumn, but here in Helena, Montana, it’s going to be 87 degrees today, and a nice cool lemonade will be just the ticket after an afternoon lugging huge plants inside in preparation for a winter that I know is coming. 

You know those lists of desert island ingredients that someone is always coming up with? No? Go ahead, take a break, and Google “chefs’ desert island ingredients.” You’ll have 3,270,000 lists to choose from. Lemons definitely would be on my list. You can use lemon for sweet or savory dishes, and it prevents scurvy. Now how can you beat that? Plus, unlike other hyper-seasonal produce, lemons are available year ‘round. 

I came across a little book called “Clean Cocktails” that had some pretty interesting drink recipes that use no refined sugar, and all natural ingredients. That’s pretty much my message here at Jeannine’s Cuisine, though not all the recipes I feature include alcohol! Although I’m generally not a big cocktail person, once in a while it’s nice to have something in the evening instead of the ubiquitous glass of white wine. After a quick flip through the book, I went looking for lemon recipes and decided to try the Meyer Lemonade. 

The recipe starts with making a honey syrup that you can make as strong or light as you like, depending on the type of honey you use. Generally, the lighter the honey, the less pronounced the honey taste will be. Then, it’s on to the cocktail itself. It goes together quickly. Honey and lemons are all you need for a great spur-of-the-moment cocktail. 

Meyer Lemonade

4 Servings

I’ve provided the ingredients for a pitcher of lemonade and for a single drink which is in parentheses. I used 8-ounce mason jars filled with ice for serving. If you can’t find Meyer lemons, regular lemons are okay. The mint sprigs are totally optional but add a nice touch to the drink. 

For the syrup:

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup water

Combine honey and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Lower heat and simmer, stirring constantly, until the honey has completely dissolved. Pour into an 8-ounce jar and allow to cool for 1 hour. The syrup will keep in the refrigerator for 3 months.

For the lemonade:

1 1/2 cups (2 ounces) vodka

1 cup (1 ounce, 1 lemon) Meyer lemon juice (about 8 lemons)

1 cup (1 ounce) honey syrup (see above)

1 cup (1 ounce) soda water, divided

Lemon slices and mint sprigs for garnish

Combine the vodka, lemon juice, and honey syrup in a 1-quart pitcher and stir until combined. Pour the lemonade into ice filled glasses, leaving space at the top of each for about an ounce of soda water. Top off with soda and garnish with lemon slice and optional mint sprig. 

Adapted from Clean Cocktails – Righteous Recipes for the Modern Mixologist by Beth Ritter Nydick and Tara Roscioli

Strawberry Basil Cooler

Cooler 1

I just returned from the Food Blogger Forum in Asheville, North Carolina. The organizers did a fantastic job of putting together a memorable program in what has got to be one of the most food-focused areas of the United States. In addition to the informative seminars and the opportunity to network with many of my fellow food bloggers, we were treated to an all-day Foodtopia tour, which included the Highland Brewing Company, where we were treated to their selection of beers and an array of food from the local food scene. Beer We also visited the Looking Glass Creamery and even had an opportunity to meet some of the goats that produced the milk for their wonderful cheeses. Goat The day finished up with a restaurant tour that evening. All I can say is, “Wow.” The food and company were fantastic, with a focus on fresh, local ingredients that also happens to be a big part of Jeannine’s Cuisine. Pour I was so inspired by the trip to Asheville that I’ve decided to concentrate the next few blog posts on some of the experiences we had during the Foodtopia tour. This post features a refreshing cocktail with basil that was a result of a stop at Strada Italiano, a lovely restaurant in the heart of downtown Asheville. We were given a choice of appetizers, and I just had to try the signature figs, stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in prosciutto. Hmm, maybe I’ll have to try and recreate that one as well. It was a little humid that night and the refreshing pineapple cocktail with basil that was waiting at the table when we arrived was a welcome addition to the evening. I decided to try my hand at my own version of a basil cocktail and this was the result. Summer may be fading, but, at least if you are in the DC area or points further South, you’ve still got some time to try this.

 Cooler Closeup

Strawberry Basil Cooler

1 Serving

The recipe includes ingredients to make enough strawberry syrup for 4-6 drinks. You will want to plan far enough ahead to give the syrup time to cool before preparing the drinks. 1 pint strawberries 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup water Fresh basil, two leaves per drink 2 ounces Absolute Citron vodka per drink 1 small bottle soda water To make the strawberry syrup, hull and quarter the strawberries until you have 2 cups. Set aside the remaining strawberries for the drinks. Place the strawberries and sugar in a saucepan and set aside allowing them to macerate for 15-30 minutes. The longer you can let them sit, the more pronounced the strawberry flavor will be. Place the pan on the stove over medium heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat when the sugar is dissolved and the strawberries have turned to mush. This should be very shortly after the mixture comes to a boil. Strain the mixture, setting aside the syrup and discarding the strawberries. Chill thoroughly. To prepare the drink, muddle one strawberry and two basil leaves in a glass. Add 2 ounces of the vodka and 3 tablespoons of the syrup and stir. Fill the glass with ice and top with soda water. Stir again and serve garnished with a fresh strawberry.