Despite the torrential downpour that cooled off the southern suburbs on Friday afternoon, the weather continues to be scorching hot and utterly dismal to a cool weather-loving gal like myself. (It is presently 35°C where I am at the moment.) That said, people are resorting to everything from plain iced water to iced tea, frozen juice pops, and chunks of ice to stay cool in the blistering heat.
Iced tea and lemonade are the coolers of choice at my house: the tall blue plastic carafes in the fridge are always filled with chilled tea (instant, but refreshing nevertheless) and the tall bottle of honey-sweetened calamansi (calamondin – a local fruit, something like a cross between a lemon and a thin-skinned green orange) concentrate has become totally indispensable. And, since my brother left a punnet of strawberries in the fridge from his last visit, I decided to take a cue from the strawberry lemonsweet recipe from the Game of Thrones-inspired food blog The Inn at the Crossroads.
Lemonsweet is, essentially, a rather medieval spin on lemonade but the flavors are allegedly more intensely lemony, even sharper than drinks made to modern lemonade recipes which tend to err on the overly sweet side. This is due in part to the fact that most old-school recipes for lemonade call for sweetening it with honey rather than sugar or simple syrup. The resulting drink is, thus, just subtly sweet with a wonted “in your face” vibrant lemon flavor.
For my concentrate-based lemonsweet, much of the tartness is derived from the slices of fresh strawberry floating atop the lemonade: the strawberry juice infuses the drink and adds a delicate, almost floral fragrance and gives the golden juice a slightly pinkish cast. Poured over ice with a few berry slices on top, it makes for a very pretty and certainly soothing summer cooler. It’s perfect enough as it is, though you may wish to add fresh mint or a sprinkle of instant salabat (ginger tea) powder to give it a bit more kick.
- scant 1/2 cup calamansi concentrate with honey (I used Citrus Farms) + enough cold water to make 1 liter
- 1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or 1 tablespoon salabat (ginger tea) powder (optional)
In a large pitcher, stir together the concentrate and the water until well-combined. Stir in the strawberry slices and the mint or ginger powder (if using). Mix well and transfer to a covered carafe. Store in the refrigerator for about a couple hours before serving, shaking it occasionally to mix the strawberry juice into the lemonade. Serve in glasses over ice.
Makes approximately 5 glasses.
Note: You can also let this drink be a cocktail base. Pour a shot of vodka over ice before pouring in the lemonsweet. Stir well and enjoy in moderation on a hot summer evening. ;)