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Monday, August 17, 2015

Refreshing Drinks for Hot Days

I always have a pitcher of  unsweetened iced tea in the refrigerator and this Summer I’ve been experimenting with making shrubs. I’m not a soda drinker, so these drinks appeal to me because they are very refreshing and not very sweet. 
Teapigs is a British tea company operating in the US. They make a most unusual line of matcha drinks. One has grapefruit, another apple and one has elderflower. None of them have any added sugar, just the natural sweetness from fruit juices. I tried all three and I’m hard pressed to say which I like best. They are each quite good. I like the bitter edge to the grapefruit, the fruitiness of the apple and the floral quality to the elderflower. They are a bit pricey at about $3.99 each, but such a nice treat. Think of it as a healthier indulgence than a cappuccino. It’s available in many locations.

If you’ve been to Rome in the Summer, perhaps you’re familiar with the lemon and coconut stands found in piazzas. The CEO of Jones Soda Co. is married to a Roman and discovered the drinks on one of her many trips to Italy. Lemoncocco might sound weird but is absolutely divine! It’s got the slight velvety creaminess of coconut and sharp tang of lemon. It’s not carbonated. It’s less than 100 calories for 12 ounces. It’s available in Calfiornia, Washington, Oregon or you can order it online.

A few months ago I got to be a judge at a beer festival. I was really happy to find out I’d been assigned to the category “Summer sippers” because it was a particularly hot day and I got to try the most refreshing drinks. The winner was not a beer at all, but a flavored cider. The judges chose Lemon Saison from Common Cider. Recently Common Cider sent me some other flavors. 

The ones I’m most fond of are Blood Orange Tangerine and Lemon Saison which isn't surprising since I like citrus flavors. They are both crisp and refreshing with a bit of effevessence, but not too much and only about 6.5% alcohol. No artificial flavors or colors. Check the online locator to find them (California and Nevada only so far). 

Another cider I’m very impressed with is Golden State Mighty Dry Cider. It’s made by the same folks who make DeVoto Cider, which produces exquisite all estate ciders that in are in somewhat limited supply. 

Golden State uses all West Coast apples of many different varieties. It clocks in at 6.9% alcohol and has no added sugars or water or concentrates. It’s a very pure and unadulterated product. It's great on its own, is also amazing when combined with a fruity shrub. It's a hard cider, but much better than most you may have tried before. 

At the Fancy Food Show in January I tried Belvoir presse style drinks with elderflower.  I’m a big fan of elderflower which is much more popular in Europe than it is here. It’s a little bit fruity and pleasantly floral. It pairs well with lemonade and mixes beautifully with white spirits like gin. 

The two flavors I've tried of Belvoir are the Elderflower and the Elderflower and Rose. Both are floral, very refreshing and have just a hint of lemon juice to balance the sweetness. They are labeled lemonade in the US, but really are more like a floral sparkling drink. Look online to find where to buy them.

Disclaimer: Some of these products were provided to me as samples or I tried them at an event. I was not monetarily compensated to write this or any other post on Cooking with Amy.