When trying to make the most of your outdoor living, food and drink are necessities. After all, what’s a good party without a refreshing beverage (mocktail, anyone?) and some delicious snacks? We want to help you up your game, so take a look at our simple recipes – we’ve got old favorites and some you may have never considered, all alcohol free for this post. Check out later ones if you’re looking for something more adult-themed.
Southern Sweet tea
If you grew up in the Deep South, then you know this recipe by heart: four to five tea bags per gallon of water, with as much sugar as you can handle. (For those of you who have no idea what we’re talking about, this will help. Now, back to tea.) What if you mixed it up a bit? Instead of cups of sugar, try adding watermelon, peach, or raspberry to give the tea a natural sweetness.
Here’s a recipe you can play with to find your perfect brew:
- Boil 4 cups of water and add 5 black tea bags
- Let steep for 20 minutes
- Cut and scoop out red flesh of a small, ripe watermelon
- Blend or food process the pieces
- Pour the juice into a small sauce pan and add up to 1 cup of sugar
- Stir and bring to a boil, dissolving all the sugar
- Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes
- Add your watermelon simple syrup to the tea in a 2-quart pitcher
- Taste test to see if you need to add more water
- Feel free to add cut watermelon into the tea mixture
- Pour over ice
- Mint or lime would also be great flavor additions to this recipe!
Sparkling water can be a great alternative to still water any time of year, but the refreshing sparkle is especially nice in the summer. All you’ll need for this recipe is a bottle of sparkling water (think Perrier, La Croix) and some in season fruit. If you’re planning to make this in the summer, then look for melons, peaches, strawberries, cherries, and blueberries. Here’s how to make that glass sparkle:
- Make fruit juice puree by blending a handful of cut and trimmed strawberries (or other fruit of choice)
- Strain fruit puree to expel juice
- Mix equal parts sparkling water with fruit juice
- Add herb of choice (mint, basil, and rosemary are great options!)
- Pour over ice
- Toss in some cut pieces of fruit for added flare
- Serve with a fancy straw
Fancy Iced Coffee
A delicious and sweet way to drink coffee is inspired by the Vietnamese. If you’ve thought of coffee as mostly a hot drink in the morning, then this one will have you craving that cup of joe well into the evening. We’d recommend freezing some of the coffee in ice cube trays so that next time you make this, you won’t water down your drink with regular ice cubes. Here’s a fun twist on traditional coffee:
- Brew a pot of strong black coffee or use espresso
- For each cup of coffee add up to 3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk*
- Pour over ice
- Stir and enjoy!
*If you don’t have much of a sweet tooth, you’ll want to modify the amount of condensed milk you use. This drink can get sugary very quickly.
We all know lemonade, whether you sold it from a roadside stand in childhood or enjoyed a glass on the back porch on hot afternoons. It’s refreshing, crisp and delightful. Most of us probably had the ready-made version where you just add water, but if you take the time to make this from scratch, you won’t be disappointed. Here’s how:
- Make a simple syrup using 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar. You can use less sugar, just keep it a 1-1 ratio.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often
- Add 1 cup lemon juice to the simple syrup
- Then, add 2 cups water
- Stir the mixture well
- Pour over ice
*If you want to take this base recipe up a notch, add pureed strawberries, hibiscus tea (it’s like a Passion Tea Lemonade from Starbucks!), or even some black tea for an Arnold Palmer. See Real Simple’s recipe list for even more ideas.
Water may not be your idea of upping your beverage game, but it’s certainly a necessity for daily survival. If you’re tired of the same old water routine, then you can easily add some pizzazz. Looking for something refreshing? Then try adding mint, cucumber, and lime. Want something fruity? Add peaches and strawberries. It’s hard to go wrong here, so have fun and mix it up!
Hope this got your drink juices flowing. If you need more ideas, check out Food Network’s list of the summer’s must-try recipes. Next time you plan to have people over, or you’re just in the mood for a refreshing beverage, try one of these. Then, experiment with different ways to bring new life to your old favorites. Fruit, herbs, and blends of both can do wonders. Have fun, and happy sipping!