Friends, we have good news. Remember back in January, when Julie and I first launched our Gatherings series, we talked about creating a new blog dedicated to simple entertaining? Well, the blog is on hold because the concept is being turned into a book! A real one that will be sold on Amazon, in Chapters stores, and pretty much anywhere you purchase your favourite reading material. I'm crazy happy about this, and so thrilled (and lucky!) to be working with Julie, and while we're still in the early stages of putting it all together, we thought you should know.
It's really important to both of us that we arm you with everything you need to make your gatherings easy and fun, so the book will be a combination of themed parties and simple know-how. Which is why this month, instead of sharing our ideas for a specific type of get-together, we're offering five of our favourite drinks that are perfect for any kind of summer entertaining.
The ones I have here are tried and true (as evidenced by my Instagram feed), and can almost always be found in the hands of someone at my house. I'm partial to the Pimm's myself, but the cold coffee is certainly a favourite, as is the root beer float, a classic summer sip that makes me think of drive-in movies, swimsuits, and hot summer afternoons.
While the Pimm's is fairly self-explanatory, the root beer float can use a little more description. First off, use an icy cold glass whenever possible. I tuck mine in the freezer in advance of using, and fill it with a few small scoops of vanilla ice cream before pouring icy cold root beer over top. My kids don't drink a lot of soda, and this one came from the health/organic section of my grocery store. It's a naturally flavoured beverage, and if you're not into conventional pops, try sourcing this wholesome alternative at your grocery or health food store.
Minty Moroccan sparkling tea is a new-to-me favourite, but it's refreshing and a fun alternative to traditional lemonade. To make the minty green tea syrup, combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add 3 green tea bags and 4-6 mint leaves and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the syrup and store in the fridge for up to two weeks. You can serve this drink in a pitcher, or by the glassful, in which case I like to rim my cups in a herb sugar made from blending 3 tablespoons of sugar and 4 mint leaves in a small food processor. Store the flavoured sugar in the fridge and use it to fancy-up your drinks this summer.
My friend, Shannon, can attest to how often I have a bottle of strawberry syrup stored in my fridge. To make it, I combine 2 cups chopped strawberries, 2 cups of water, and 1 cup of honey in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the mixture for 15 minutes. Strain the berries, gently pressing on them to release their flavourful juices, then transfer the liquid to a glass bottle to be stored in the fridge. To make a kid-friendly or non-alcoholic version, swap the gin with more sparkling water, but the alcohol does add a lovely flavour you'll impress your adult guests with.
Iced coffee is a favourite for many, and can be a sweet finish to a summer dinner, or a late afternoon pick-me-up when you have house guests and overnight visitors. I like to make cold-pressed coffee, which is done by placing 1/3 cup coarsely ground coffee into a 1 litre jar, and covering it with cold, filtered water. Seal and store at room temperature overnight or for up to 12 hours. Strain the coffee into a paper-towel lined sieve set over another jar, or bowl, and wash the first container to rid it of the excess sediment. Store the coffee concentrate in the fridge for up to one week, and to serve, pour it over ice and flavour with cream and sweetener, or homemade flavoured creamers.
To make the creamers, here are 3 simple recipes:
- Maple Almond Creamer = 3/4 cup light cream + 1/4 cup maple syrup + 1 teaspoon almond extract
- Vanilla Bean Creamer = 3/4 cup light cream + 2 Tbsp. cane/granulated sugar + 1/2 tsp. vanilla powder
- Malted Chocolate Creamer = 3/4 cup light cream + 2 Tbsp. cane/granulated sugar + 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder + 1 Tbsp. malted chocolate powder
Now it's your turn. Do you have a favourite summer drink? What do you like to serve when entertaining?