The Pause That Refreshes

Okay, so I totally stole that title from Coca-Cola, but it pretty much sums up the most important characteristic of my summer beverage choices.  Where wintertime beverages are meant to comfort, warm and soothe, summer drinks should fizz, cool and energize.  They provide a needed respite from the heat and outside activities warmer weather brings.

I remember years ago – living in Seattle – when the weather subtly shifted from cold and soggy winter/spring into spring/summer budding with warm sunshine. Something inperceptible had changed in the air and suddenly I craved a gin and tonic.  Really, is there anything better than sipping a cool gin and tonic with a twist of lime while watching sunsets from the porch?  (One of the best parts about living in the Pacific Northwest were the long, long, long evenings.  I’m pretty sure they were a reward for making it through the pitifully short days of winter.  So there was lots of sipping….)

Anyway, procuring liquor in the Great State of Washington was no easy task.  First, it meant locating a state-run liquor store (this was back when the Internet was just an infant and getting online meant listening to odd tones screaming over the phone line and 15 minutes later, Voila!  You’ve Got Mail! So finding a liquor store meant actually looking it up on a phone book.) Then you had to get yourself to said liquor store before closing time (not easy when you’re armed only with a bus pass and don’t get off work until 5:30pm.)  I savored those cocktails – both for the effort it took to make them and the summer weather they welcomed in my personal datebook.

I’m not really much of a cocktail drinker anymore – except during the summer.  I remember those quests for gin and then retire to my back porch with a double-old fashioned full of gently clinking ice cubes.  The only difference is that I’ve traded the gin for vodka.

But summer isn’t just for cocktails.  When the weather warms up, the fridge is perennially stocked with fresh-brewed sun tea.  As a kid, we would drink gallons and gallons of it every day.  My mom always had a two-gallon glass pickle jar baking on the back patio and I drank mine plain (and still do today), while my Mom preferred sugar in hers.  Now I make it with three bags of PG Tips and when I want to add a little flavor – one bag of peppermint or passion fruit.  I know summer has arrived when almost every meal is grilled and we trade the milk at the dinner table for sun tea.

But my favorite summertime beverage is Watermelon Lemonade.  It’s a pain in the ass to make, but I discovered it a few years ago and I love it so much it’s become a summertime staple.  Madison and I like it because the sweetness of the watermelon curbs the sourness of the lemon and it calls for about a third of the sugar of regular lemonade.  (That sounds like an awful Kool-Aid commercial doesn’t it?  Sorry.)  Poured over ice, it’s the perfect afternoon snack.  (Or mixed with vodka it makes a great Sunday afternoon cocktail.  I told you I like vodka in the summer!)  The toughest part of making it is straining the pulp and seeds, (and keeping the mess to a minimum,) but it’s totally worth it to have watermelon lemonade on tap.  Doubling the recipe below makes just over a gallon.

Watermelon Lemonade

6 cups watermelon
1 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice

Slice the watermelon and discard the rind.  Remove as many seeds as you can from the watermelon flesh. Place watermelon and water in a blender and blend until smooth. Strain liquid into a pitcher and mix in the sugar and lemon juice. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate until chilled, then serve.

2 comments on “The Pause That Refreshes

  1. Susan Weisberger
    June 23, 2011 at 7:29 am #

    I tough it out, I don’t strain it the watermelon lemonade I like the pulp and I encourage my guest to spite the seeds out. I use to tell the kids that we were planting new fruit when we thew away our seeds. Do you think that is why Heather is so aware of organic gardening?

  2. Susan Weisberger
    June 23, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    Sorry about the misspells clearly I should finish my coffee and wake up before I respond. lol Mom

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