Summer temperatures beg for a refreshing beverage to sip on, and all the berries and herbs in season give us plenty to work with. Mix up one that kids and adults alike can enjoy with these mocktail recipes — bright flavors and beautiful colors will add a festive touch to any get-together.
2 1/2 cups Bing or Rainier cherries
1/4 cup sugar
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
Splash of club soda
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine cherries, sugar, thyme and 1/4 cup water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cherries have softened, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Discard thyme, then transfer mixture to a blender and purée until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher. Stir in lime juice and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Fill individual Collins glasses with ice. Fill each glass one-third full with cherry mixture and top with club soda. Serves 6 to 8.
Lemongrass Green Tea
7 to 9 stalks lemongrass
4 bags green tea
1/2 cup agave nectar or honey, plus more if needed
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
Cut off and discard leafy tops from each lemongrass stalk, and trim off the bases of the pale, bulblike bottom parts. Finely chop 1 lemongrass stalk and set others aside for garnish. In a large saucepan, bring 6 cups water to a boil. Add tea bags, chopped lemongrass and agave nectar. Remove from heat and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and let cool to room temperature. Once cooled, transfer to a pitcher, stir in lemon juice and chill for at least 30 minutes. Taste and add more agave nectar if needed. Pour into individual glasses over ice. Garnish with lemongrass stalks and serve at once. You can add a sugar or salt rim to glasses before filling them, if desired. Serves 6 to 8.
Summer Berry Cooler
1 pint blackberries
1 pint blueberries
1/4 cup fresh mint, coarsely chopped
1 cup lavender syrup (see note below)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
4 cups club soda
In a pitcher, muddle berries and mint. Add lavender syrup and lemon juice and stir to combine. Fill pitcher three-quarters full with ice and top with club soda. Serve at once in individual glasses. Serves 6 to 8.
Note: To make the lavender syrup, in a small saucepan, combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1 tablespoon or 1 tea bag of lavender flowers. Let cool. Refrigerate overnight. Strain liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into an airtight container and store in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Makes 1 1/2 cups.
8 lemon verbena leaves, plus leaves for garnish
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups fresh lemon juice
2 lemons, thinly sliced
Bring 2 cups water to a boil. In a heatproof measuring cup, combine boiling water with lemon verbena leaves. Stir in sugar to dissolve. Allow to steep for 10 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and chill for at least 30 minutes. In a pitcher, combine lemon verbena syrup, 4 cups water and lemon juice. Serve in individual glasses over ice. Garnish with lemon verbena leaves and lemon slices. Serves 6 to 8.