Refreshing drinks are the perfect accompaniment for all this glorious weather. Although you could fall back on classics like Pimm’s or pints of cider, sometimes something lighter and non-alcoholic is needed. After all, it’s nice to spend a day dossing in the sun without the soporific haze of day drinking. So here is a selection of non-alcoholic drinks perfect for sultry afternoons.
A shrub syrup is a vinegar-based syrup flavoured with fruit. This syrup can then be used like a cordial or as an ingredient in mocktails and cocktails. It is a great way to use up fruit that is getting a bit too ripe. I made a pear shrub syrup. As the sweetness of the fruit will vary, it is better to use too little sugar to start with and then once infused, you can add sugar to taste.
For 1 pear, heat 200ml of cider vinegar with 175g of sugar until fully dissolved. Add the diced fruit, and gently combine. Let cool, add to a jar (or another container with a watertight lid) and leave in the fridge for at least a day – ideally more like a week.
Strain out the fruit (filter for clarity) and transfer to a clean bottle. Once made, it should last in the fridge for around 3 months.
Other fruit and kinds of vinegar work, following the same ration of vinegar to sugar, and ensuring the syrup fully immerses the fruit. Red berries such as strawberries work brilliantly with white wine vinegar and give the finished syrup a lovely vermilion hue. You can experiment with additional flavours by adding herbs and spices during the infusing time in the fridge.
Pear Shrub Fizz:
A very simple way to use the syrup is in a fizz. This drink is a perfect alternative to traditional elderflower cordial or lemonade.
Over ice pour around 50ml shrub syrup and top up with sparkling water. Garnish either with a sliver of pear or lemon.
For a slightly more complex flavour, try swapping the sparkling water for soda or even tonic.
Pear Shrub Sour:
With long evenings, cocktails in the garden can be rather tempting, so here is a mocktail to sate those 6pm longings.
Shake with ice, 50ml shrub syrup, 25ml lemon juice, and if a richer texture is desired add 15ml egg white or aquafaba. Serve in a chilled coupe glass.
If using other fruit shrubs, try experimenting with different citrus juices e.g. lime juice would make a good Mango Shrub Sour. You could also add a shot of gin if you fancied making this into a cocktail.
Soft Tea Punch:
As with alcoholic punch, this is less of a recipe than a guide that can be tweaked to your taste and for what is available.
The basics are: 1 part sour, 2 parts sweet, and 4 tea. For the sour, any citrus should work – try pairing Earl Grey with a blend of lime and orange juice. As with many summer drinks, it is easy to mix up a jug and slowly sip your way through it. To give hint at the rum based origins I like to use some brown sugar for part of the sweetness. Use lime juice as the sour, honey syrup for the sweet and cold rose infused tea as the weak for a delicious combination. Mixed with ice, and garnished with dried rose petals, this makes an elegant drink. For variants you could try replacing part of the tea with fruit juices – I think a glug of peach juice would work well.
Iced ‘Turkish’ Coffee:
This is a take on traditional Turkish coffee, which is frequently made with cardamom, tempered by the more everyday iced latte.
Add to a cafetiere a very generous amount of ground coffee, and a ¼ teaspoon of ground cardamom, use about half the water you would normally use, as you want very strongly flavoured coffee. You could also use a double espresso and add a dash of cardamom-infused simple syrup (simple syrup that has been gently simmered with a few cardamom pods for around 15 minutes and then cooled).
Add milk and sugar to taste to your cardamom-infused coffee – note that the sweetness will be slightly dulled when cold. Chill in the fridge and serve over plenty of ice.
– Ed Bedford