Summer is here and there’s nothing I love more than an ice-cold cocktail on the deck, while basking in the sun. And by basking in the sun, I mean parenting my four kids. Some days are long, and it feels like five o’clock is so far away so why not get a head start with a virgin cocktail. If you want to (or need to) you can booze it up when five o’clock hits, if you like to play by the rules.
These four cocktails are inspired by the last five years of my life, four of which I was pregnant. It seemed, wherever I went, there was always someone who was driving, pregnant, nursing, on a health kick, sober Octobering or someone who just plain didn’t drink alcohol. Whatever the reason, if you choose not to consume alcohol, it’s still possible to have a refreshing cocktail instead of a pop or a water. It’s also nice to know, that you can offer all your guests the same cocktail with alcohol as an option if they so choose, so nobody misses out on the deliciousness.
If I wasn’t on maternity leave right now, I would be teaching, and I would definitely be craving a cocktail as soon as the bell rang. Typically, the temperatures are in the 30’s at this time of year and our building does not have air conditioning. (Insert rant from any of our students re: air conditioning, here.) So, sweaty teenagers + exhausted teachers + no AC = I need an icy cocktail ASAP. As I am sitting here in my air-conditioned kitchen, reminiscing about how there is no AC at work, I’m reminded of one of my colleagues who used to bring his Margaritaville machine to work in June and make us delicious, morale-boosting, virgin blended drinks to keep cool. The best thing about these five recipes is that there is no blender required so you get your cocktail fast, and you don’t have to do the dishes! (Two of my favorite things!)
The lovely folks at Lemo Lemonade sent me some samples of their Original Lemonade Syrup and I just loved this product so much that I had to share how I used it in two of these drink recipes. I thought the flavor was so versatile, depending on how I mixed it. I also loved the zest in the syrup as it had more of a homemade look and feel than other syrups I’ve tried. Plus, the packaging is cute, yet classy and would make an excellent gift for anyone on your list.
A combination of hand-zested and juiced lemons, oranges and grapefruits and bottled in small batches in Montreal, Lemo is a modern take on a 100-year-old family recipe from right here in Manitoba, the small town of Ste. Rose-du-Lac. If you’re a Winnipegger, the only place you can buy it in the city is at Coal and Canary at the Forks. Otherwise, you can find it at various retailers, restaurants, bars and coffee shops in Quebec and online here. Are you thirsty yet?
I prepared Lemo Original as directed on the bottle and my kids loved it. I thought preparing it this way highlighted the lemon flavor and it tasted just like fresh squeezed lemonade. Next, I made a Lemo Creamsicle, which tastes exactly like an orange Creamsicle. So refreshing on a hot day.
1 oz. Lemo Original
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 can (355 ml.) orange flavored sparkling water
Mix all ingredients and give a little stir to combine. Add ice and enjoy!
MAKE IT BOOZY – Add one ounce of vanilla vodka.
Next, I tried a Lemo mule. I love the way the ginger from the ginger beer compliments the citrus fruits in the Lemo syrup.
1 oz. Lemo Original Lemonade Syrup
Juice of half of a lime
One sprig of fresh mint
1 bottle (355 ml.) ginger beer
Add Lemo, lime juice and mint to a copper mule mug. Use a spoon to bruise the mint leave and release the flavors. Top with ginger beer, stir to combine. Add ice and enjoy!
MAKE IT BOOZY – Add one ounce of vodka
I love using fresh herbs in cocktails. It is such a simple thing to do to really amp up the flavors in your drinks. I made a simple rosemary syrup for this next one, simply by bringing one cup water and one cup sugar to a boil with a few sprigs of rosemary. You don’t have to use very much rosemary, even one sprig will do here. Once it boils, turn the heat off and let the rosemary steep in the syrup while it cools, then strain and store in a mason jar in the fridge.
Rosemary grapefruit mimosas
2 tsp. rosemary syrup
½ cup unsweetened grapefruit juice
½ cup sparkling water
Mix all ingredients together and stir to combine. Add ice and enjoy.
MAKE IT BOOZY – Replace sparkling water with sparkling wine
This last cocktail is my go-to on a hot day. It’s so refreshing and it’s basically just water, so you can have as many as you want and you don’t have to feel guilty about it.
Cucumber lime mojito
1 can (355 ml.) lime flavored sparkling water
Juice of half of a lime
1 sprig fresh mint
4 slices fresh cucumber
Slice or dice the cucumber, as you prefer. Add the cucumber, lime juice, mint and sparkling water to a tall glass and stir, using the spoon to release the flavors from the cucumber and mint. Top with ice and enjoy.
MAKE IT BOOZY – ADD ONE OUNCE OF WHITE RUM
I’m all for having cocktails before five o’clock, but sometimes, responsibility calls and it’s just not in the cards. These virgin cocktails are perfectly fine on their own and have the option to be boozy if you want them to be! What’s your favorite virgin cocktail for a hot summer day? Comment and share your recipe!