It is hot. Right now, weather.com is telling me it’s 97 feels like 111. It is 82 degrees inside of our apartment because the A/C can’t keep up. Bleh.
In light of this weather, I figured it would be a good time to work on The Gluten-Free Homemaker’s monthly challenge to create a gluten-free beverage. This is a perfect challenge for me, as close friends and family will tell you, because making (and making up) drinks is a favorite activity of mine.
If you can ignore the weather, one advantage of the summer is the abundance of fresh basil available. It’s especially nice when other people grow it and you get to use it, as was the case with this basil we received from my mother-in-law. :)
Anyway, lemonade is the quintessential summer drink, and basil my favorite summer herb, so I combined them into a fancy drink for you.
Basil-infused simple syrup:
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1 cup fresh basil, well-packed
- Combine the water and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved and mixture is clear. Remove from heat.
- Allow simple syrup to cool. (It doesn’t need to be room temperature, but it shouldn’t be steaming.) Place basil in a large container with a lid, pour simple syrup over the basil. Cover and refrigerate. Allow basil to steep around two hours. Remove basil and return simple syrup to the refrigerator until ready to use.
(Makes ~3 cups)
Basil-infused sparkling lemonade:
- 2 cups basil-infused simple syrup
- 2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 4 cups sparkling mineral water or club soda
- ice cubes
- fresh basil (for garnish)
- lemon slices (for garnish)
- To make individual glasses: Fill a tall tumbler with ice. Add 1/4 cup simple syrup and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Top with 1/2 cup sparkling water. Stir well. Garnish. Repeat with remaining glasses. Serve immediately.
- To make a pitcher: Mix simple syrup, lemon juice, and sparkling water in a pitcher. Stir well. Pour into ice-filled tumblers. Garnish. Serve immediately.
(Makes 2 quarts, serves ~8 people)
If you hadn’t bothered to do the math, the basic ratio for the lemonade is 1 part simple syrup:1 part lemon juice:2 parts sparkling water. Scale up or down to suit your needs. As you’ll notice, I left you with some extra simple syrup to play with. My suggestion: basil mojitos. I will also note, you can make a great cocktail by spiking the lemonade with whiskey. (Or probably just about any other liquor, but I’m only vouching for whiskey.)
The simple syrup and lemon juice can be mixed ahead of time, but don’t add the sparkling water until you’re ready to serve, otherwise you’ll lose the fizzyness.
The simple syrup can be infused for longer or shorter periods depending on your taste preferences. The lemonade had a very subtle basil flavor once everything was mixed. I would probably let the basil sit a bit longer next time. The other point to keep in mind is that the longer you steep the basil, the darker your simple syrup will be, which in turn may affect the color of your lemonade.
This recipe is also being shared in Full Plate Thursday.