Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Sparkling Cucumber Limeade

Confession: summery drinks are a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. In the fall and winter I go head-over-heels for winter quash, cozy casseroles and soups, and all things roasted. But when summer rolls around, it's all about the fresh herbs and refreshing drinks!

Yes, I know they're full of sugar and empty calories. But when it's 100 degrees and I want my air conditioning bill (some people call it an electric bill) to not be exorbitant, a tasty cold beverage becomes almost a necessity.

And what's more refreshing than lightly bubbly limeade infused with cucumber and fresh mint? Not much, my friends!

Sparkling Cucumber Limeade
Adapted from Rachael Ray, as seen on Taste and Tell
Yield: 4 servings

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, torn
1 cup lime juice (I use bottled)
1 medium cucumber, sliced (peeled if the skin is bitter)
Additional mint leaves (optional)
2 cups sparkling water, chilled (see notes)

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the mint leaves. Let sit, for 10-30 minutes.

Remove and discard the mint leaves, which will probably now be dark brown and less appealing-looking. Combine the sugar water with the lime juice and cucumber. Add more fresh mint leaves, if desired. Refrigerate for at least an hour. (I actually like to let mine chill for about 30 minutes before adding the cucumbers--I'm afraid of cooking them slightly if the sugar water is too warm.)

Right before serving, add the sparkling water (see notes) and serve over ice.

Since I live by myself, I usually eat and drink by myself. Which poses a problem with fizzy beverages like this, because I can either 1) drink a reasonable amount in one sitting, but then the rest of it goes flat before I drink it, or 2) drink the entire pitcher, but be sick because that's ridiculous. So here's what I do:
  • Make the recipe, minus the sparkling water. Store this in the fridge for use as needed.
  • Buy the skinny cans of Perrier (250 mL each) and keep those in the fridge.
  • When I'm ready to partake, I use a pint-sized mason jar, add 3-4 ice cubes and almost a whole can of Perrier, and fill the rest with the limeade concentrate. That ratio is just about perfect for me, but you may find that you like more or less of the concentrate.
Also, for the record, I don't like sparkling water on its own (even the flavored stuff), so I'm usually skeptical about recipes that call for it. But it's great in this drink!

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