Summer is party time! From weddings to family reunions, and in my case, graduation celebrations, there are occasions that ask us to go above and beyond the ordinary for our beverage offerings. This June marks the college graduation of my daughter, Lucy, and part of our gift to her was a sunny garden party with all her friends and family to mark the milestone.
I turned to some herbal inspiration for the beverages and created a nice “bar” of boozy lemonades and a refreshing non-alcoholic sun tea option. These three punches were a BIG hit with all the guests and would be perfectly appropriate for picnics, barbecues, or wedding showers and can be adapted easy to be alcohol free! Feel free to experiment and add other yummy herbs like mint, lemon balm, or whatever you might fancy…
Sparkling Strawberry Rose Lemonade
First make the rose water…
6 cups of fresh, organic, scented rose petals (I used old-fashioned red roses from our garden—but you could definitely use good, dried petals with a strong scent)
Distilled water to cover
Simmer rose petals and water over medium heat (don’t boil) for 20 minutes or so in a covered saucepan. If using red-colored petals, most of the color will drain from the petals. Cool & strain. (Compost the petals.)
Then make the rose syrup…
Measure rose water and pour into a saucepan. Add half as much sugar. The ratio for a simple syrup is 2 parts water to 1 part sugar. Bring to a boil over medium high heat until sugar is dissolved. The consistency will be like a lightly thickened syrup. Cool. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate and use as needed or for the rest of this recipe.
Make the lemonade base…
Juice 6-8 organic lemons to make 1 ½ cups of juice
Grate 2-3 Tablespoons of lemon zest/rind
1 ½ cup water
1 ½ cup of organic sugar
Heat water and sugar to boil and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add lemon juice and rind. Cool. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate and use as needed for individual glasses of lemonade (add more water, ice, etc.) or use for the rest of this recipe.
2 cups fresh, soft, organic strawberries pureed in a blender!
NOW…mix the rose syrup, strawberry puree and lemonade base in a large punch bowl or beverage dispenser. Add 1 gallon of cold water (or more if needed or to taste) and 1 bottle of pink champagne (or you could also add club soda or non-alcoholic sparkling cider). Stir and add about 4 cups of ice.
Make the lavender syrup…
4 cups water
2 cups sugar
3 Tablespoons organic lavender flowers (I used dried, but you could use fresh lavender)
Bring to a boil over medium high heat until sugar is dissolved. The consistency will be like a lightly thickened syrup. Cool. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate and use as needed or for the rest of this recipe.
Make the lemonade base (above).
NOW…mix the lavender syrup and lemonade base in a large punch bowl or beverage dispenser. Add 1 gallon of cold water and 1 bottle of champagne (or you could add club soda or non-alcoholic sparkling cider, or even a little vodka if you’d like). Stir and add about 4 cups of ice.
Peace-ful Sun Tea
½ cup of Peace Tea
Put tea in infuser(s) and add to 2 gallons of cool water. Cover and place in sun for several hours to brew. Before serving, add 4 cups of ice. (You could also refrigerate after several hours in the sun to cool before serving.)
We used dozens of pint-sized Mason jars for glassware and offered colorful vintage paper straws for the taking. The great thing about the jars-as-glasses is that I didn’t worry for one second about glasses breaking and there were even a couple folks who took jars of tea with them as they left to drive home. In keeping with the herby tea them, we made up a huge batch of a special tea mix for folks to take home and packaged it in brown paper, poly-lined bags.
Good Luck Tea
½ part organic Raspberry Leaf
¼ part organic Hibiscus
¼ part organic Lemongrass
¼ part organic Rosehips
¼ part organic Peppermint Leaf
I made this in a BIG batch using several cups of each herb, but if you want to make a cup or a pot, each “part” would be in Tablespoon or teaspoon measurements.
Happy Summer Celebrations!