Peach Herb Lemonade

There’s something about sunny, warm weather that makes me want to relax on the porch… I can’t think of a better way to end a day spent outdoors than kicking back with a refreshing beverage on the patio.  We’ve been fortunate in Juneau so far this spring in that we’ve had a lot of chances to enjoy evenings outside.  Of course, we’ve also had to clean our table and chairs anytime we want to sit on the porch thanks to the insane pollen release this year… EVERYTHING’s been covered in yellow!  Whenever Penguin (our black tuxedo cat) would come in from outside, it looked like he’d had his fur frosted with blonde.  I’m just so glad that neither of us are allergic to pollen!

Anyway, despite billowing clouds of pollen, we’ve been enjoying our porch a lot so far this year.  Our drink of choice has frequently been Alaskan Brewing Company’s Raspberry Wheat – a terrific summer beer!  But since my new Tupelo Honey Cafe cookbook arrived, we’ve also been sipping on this Peach Herb Lemonade…

Peach Herb Lemonade

I really enjoyed Tupelo Honey Cafe’s first cookbook, so when their second was released I made sure to order it.  I bought it for the food recipes, but when I was flipping through it the first time it was their lemonade recipe that caught my eye.  I’d finally made it to their restaurant in Knoxville when I was visiting my family over Christmas this year, and my friend had ordered this drink.  Once I tasted it I understood why it was one of her favorite things on the menu.  The savory element of the rosemary perfectly complements the sweetness from the peaches.  Needless to say, I was happy to see that recipe in the cookbook.

It was feeling like summer in Juneau (and what’s more summery than peaches?!) and I had leftover rosemary in the fridge, so I decided to whip up a batch for our nightly porch-sit.  Of course, I adapted the recipe to make it an “adult” lemonade – because that’s just more fun – by spiking it with rum.  You could probably also spike it with vodka, but I’m just more of a rum person.  I’ve also included instructions for keeping it virgin if that’s what you prefer or you want it to be kid-friendly.  I hope you enjoy this easy and delicious concoction!

Peach Herb Lemonade

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients

3/4 c. Water
3/4 c. Rum (or more water to keep it virgin)
12 oz. Peach Nectar (1 can)
1 c. Lemon Juice
1 1/3 c. Water
1 c. Sugar
4 sprigs Fresh Rosemary

1.  Start by making your rosemary simple syrup: Combine the 1 1/3 c. water with the sugar and rosemary in a small saucepan.  Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Once the syrup is boiling, remove from the heat and allow to cool.  Once it is cooled, remove the rosemary and discard.

Tip: To get plenty of rosemary flavor in your syrup, lightly bruise the rosemary with the back of a knife before adding it to the pot.

2.  Combine the remaining ingredients with 1 1/4 c. of the rosemary simple syrup you just made (you should have ~1/2 c. of the simple syrup remaining – the perfect amount for another half batch!).  Mix well and chill before serving.

Note: For a homemade lemonade I like to squeeze my own lemons.  It may add a little time to your prep, but I think it’s worth it.  For 1 cup of lemon juice it usually takes 5-6 lemons.  If you’re using store-bought lemon juice make sure to check the label, sometimes they add extra preservatives (though why lemon juice, which is full of citric acid, would need added preservatives is beyond me…).

This drink is perfect served in a mason jar.  If you’re feeling fancy, add a sprig of rosemary as a finishing touch!

Glass of Lemonade

Now you’re ready for an afternoon/evening of outdoor relaxation!  A friendly word of warning if you do decide to spike it, this drink can be dangerous – the rum is completely masked by the lemonade.  This lemonade would be wonderful for a cook-out, bbq, or pool party.  Need ideas for another summer pitcher drink?  Check out our Peach Tea Cocktail, another beverage perfect for summer entertaining…

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Peach Tea Cocktail

Fall is rapidly approaching up here in Juneau.  The rain is trying to settle in, the temperatures are dropping, and the days are shortening.  Plus football season has started (Hallelujah!) – a sure sign of fall.  As summer draws to a close, I wanted to share a recipe for you to enjoy while you’re soaking up the late summer sunshine.

Completed Cocktail Pitcher

This cocktail is the perfect warm weather drink.  All the sunshine we got in Juneau this summer put me in a Southern state of mind, so I wanted some spiked sweet tea.  I didn’t want it to be too sweet so I wanted to use fruit to help sweeten the tea.  Peaches are evocative of summer and readily available in the grocery store right now, so I decided to go with peach tea.  I found this recipe which I altered slightly, and it came out delicious!  With just a few minutes work, you can have a tasty cocktail pitcher that’s perfect for cook-outs and parties.

Peach Tea Cocktail

Prep Time: 10 minutes + chill time

Serves: 4

Ingredients

4 c. Water
8 Tea Bags (I use Lipton’s)
1 c. Simple Syrup
1 Lemon
3 Ripe Peaches
1 1/2 c. Peach Vodka

1.  Bring the water to a boil then pour into a heat-proof pitcher.  Add the tea bags and allow to steep for 5 minutes.

2.  If you don’t already have simple syrup on hand, you can make it while the tea is steeping.  Combine equal parts water and sugar (I use 1 c. of each) and heat, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved.  Measure out 1 c. for use in this recipe and save the rest in the fridge for other cocktails.

3.  Once the tea has steeped, remove the tea bags and add the simple syrup.  Slice the lemon and add it to the pitcher.  Wash and slice the peaches then add them to the tea.

Note: Ripe peaches should have a little give when you squeeze them and should smell like peaches.  If they’re not ripe when you buy them, put them in a paper bag and leave them on the counter for a few days until they are fragrant.

Steeping Tea

4.  Transfer the pitcher to the fridge to cool.  Once the tea is completely cool – not before or you can cook off the alcohol – stir in the vodka.

Chill until ready to serve.  I recommend making the tea in the morning so the peach flavor has plenty of time to diffuse into the tea.  Serve over ice with some of the fruit as garnish.  Enjoy sipping this refreshing beverage while relaxing on a lazy summer evening.  A word of warning, this drink goes down very easily so be careful.

Cocktail Pitcher

Raspberry Margaritas

Margaritas are one of my favorite cocktails – they’re delicious, they’re made with tequila (¡que bueno!), and they come in such a variety of flavors.  Of the flavors you commonly come across on menus, I’ve always been partial to raspberry.  Raspberries are one of my favorite fruits and they have an inherent tartness that helps keep the margarita from becoming overpoweringly sweet (an unfortunate fate which befalls many strawberry margaritas).  We’ve had a particularly sunny summer in Juneau, and the bushes next to our building have a bumper crop of raspberries this year so I set out to make the perfect raspberry margarita at home. Raspberry Margarita I adapted the raspberry syrup from this recipe by upping the raspberry and cutting back on the sugar.  If you prefer a more tart margarita, you could probably cut back on the sugar even more – this recipe still comes out pretty sweet.  Then I combined the syrup with the right amount of tequila and lime juice to satisfy my taste in margaritas.  For me, I want to be able to taste the tequila and detect that hint of lime.  I can’t tell you how many flavored margarita recipes I’ve come across online that use WAY too much lime juice so that’s all you taste.  I love lime juice, but it has a very strong flavor (especially if you use bottled lime juice rather than fresh-squeezed) so a little goes a long way.

This recipe takes a little longer than some other cocktail recipes since you’re making your own syrup from scratch, but it’s well worth the effort.  You can make the syrup several days in advance and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.  Then your drinks come together in a snap whenever the mood strikes.  I hope you enjoy this refreshing, fruity margarita!

Raspberry Margaritas

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Prep Time: 5 minutes + chill time

Serves: 4

Ingredients

1 generous c. Raspberries
1 scant c. Sugar
1/4 c. Water
12 oz. 100% Agave Tequila (I like Hornitos)
6 oz. Lime Juice

1.  Measure out your raspberries and sugar.  You want a very generous cup of raspberries (see how mine are piled above the top of the measuring cup) to get plenty of the raspberry flavor, and a scant cup (you could even call it a generous 3/4 c.) of sugar – you don’t want the margarita to be too sweet… Raspberry 1_2Raspberry 3_2

2.  Combine the raspberries and the sugar with the water in a saucepan and heat over medium heat.

3.  While the mixture is heating, stir and break down the raspberries.  I use a potato masher, but you could also use a whisk.

4.  Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.  Make sure you watch your pot as the syrup has a tendency to boil over which creates a REALLY sticky mess on your stove… Boil Syrup 5.  Once the mixture is done cooking, pour the mixture through a strainer to catch all the raspberry seeds.  Using a spatula or the back of a spoon, push on the seed/pulp mixture to get as much raspberry liquid out as you can.  You should be left with a nice, smooth raspberry syrup.

Strain Syrup Raspberry Syrup

6.  Allow the syrup to chill in the refrigerator until cool.  This syrup can be kept in the fridge for several days if you want to make it ahead of time.

7.  In a pitcher, combine the raspberry syrup with the tequila and lime juice and stir well to combine.  You could also combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker, but for four servings you’d have to do it in two batches.

Note: When I measure the tequila and lime for this recipe I use the large side of my cocktail jigger which is 1 1/2 oz.  Measuring this way, it’s two shots of tequila and one of lime juice for each margarita (8 of tequila and 4 of lime juice for 4 margaritas).

Also, I use bottled lime juice for this recipe.  Fresh-squeezed lime juice is great, but I don’t keep many limes on hand in my fridge.  If you are using fresh-squeezed (which has a mellower flavor), you could increase the amount of lime juice you’re using some without overpowering the other flavors. A quick aside on bottled lime juice – I now only buy mine in the organic section of the grocery store.  I used RealLemon and RealLime for a long time before I looked at the ingredient label and realized this “100% Juice” wasn’t actually all juice… Now I buy organic lemon and lime juice and which has only one ingredient, lemon or lime juice.

Serve on the rocks with a raspberry and lime wedge as garnish (if you’re feeling fancy). Raspberry Margarita Now carry your tasty beverage out to a sunny porch and settle in with a big bowl of tortilla chips and freshly-made salsa and guacamole (try our Roasted Garlic Guacamole) or drink it alongside one of our Mexican dishes:

Chicken Tinga Tacos

Chipotle Stout Braised Beef

Green Citrus Chicken Enchiladas

Looking for another tasty margarita recipe?  Try our blended Pineapple Mango Margarita!

Pineapple Mango Margarita

I had been looking for a pineapple margarita recipe for a long time.  Most of the recipes I tried were overpowered by lime juice so that all you tasted was lime.  Where was that sweet pineapple flavor?  I finally found this recipe which I adjusted to get the tropical flavor I wanted while preserving the margarita taste.  Enjoy this glass of sunshine the next time you want to whip up a pitcher of margaritas!

Pineapple Mango Margarita

Pineapple Mango Margarita

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients

generous 3/4 c. Frozen Mango Chunks
generous 3/4 c. Frozen Pineapple Chunks
1/4 c. Pineapple Juice
2 tbsp. Simple Syrup
1 tbsp. Lime Juice
1/2 c. Tequila, you want the 100% Agave stuff (I like Hornitos)
Ice

1.  Combine all ingredients except ice in a blender pitcher and blend.  (I use the “Blend” setting on my blender which is speed 8 on a 12 speed blender).  You want the mixture to be nice and smooth.

Note: If you’ve never worked with simple syrup before, fear not.  It truly lives up to its name, “simple.”  You make it by combining 1 part sugar with 1 part water.  You’ll need to make sure your water is warm to dissolve the sugar.  You can store it in the fridge and grab it when you’re making your next cocktail.

2.  Add ice to the pitcher and blend to achieve the desired consistency.  For me, 4-5 cubes is the perfect amount of ice.  (For this step I use the “Crush Ice” setting on my blender which is speed 12 out of 12).  You want to make sure the ice gets well blended so it’s nice and fine.  Nothing ruins a blended frozen cocktail faster than big chunks of ice.

3.  Serve in your favorite margarita glasses.  (My favorites are my cactus glasses… Love them!)

Looking for another refreshing margarita recipe to try?  Check out our Raspberry Margaritas!