Rachel Khoo

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Posted by Rachel

June 13th, 2013

Ingredient of the month – Summer drinks!

Rachel Khoo recipe chilled cherry soup

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald, ‘The Great Gatsby’. When Fitzgerald mused about the pleasures of summer, chances are  he was midway through a chilled beverage, potentially on a French terrace.

It seems like entertaining this summer season is bound to take on the frivolous and fancy vibe of ‘The Great Gatsby’, with cocktail parties, and mid-afternoon soirées on the horizon. So for my latest Ingredient of the Month, I thought June was the ideal time of year to celebrate delightful summer drinks.

Rachel Khoo limes

Summertime = lots of colour and fresh citrus :)

Now of course summer is the perfect season to whip out a bottle of rosé or sip pastis on terraces in Paris (a popular aperitif), but let’s not forget about a whole array of other lovely summer cups and concoctions. The arrival of fresh summer produce is the perfect excuse to make your thirst-quenchers and cocktails as fancy and pretty as possible. Some people might say why bother (and focus on the food), but I say – pourquoi pas?

Serving lovely drinks really adds to a meal, and since reading this book I have a new appreciation for pairing quality drinks with quality fare. Some of my favourite cocktails are served here in Paris, so lately I’ve been taking inspiration from their beautiful presentation, and going all out with garnishes and pretty summer touches. Here are some of my ideas:

Tips for preparing summer drinks:

* Try ginger beer (as a substitute for traditional lemonade) and a ginger garnish (along with the classic slices of cucumber and mint) when serving Pimm’s. You can really try lots of different twists with Pimm’s, you just need a good base recipe to start with, and then you can start playing around. I like this classic recipe.

Rachel Khoo cucumber

Have cucumber on hand during summer for whipping out the Pimm’s

* For an alternative to Pimm’s try Sipsmith’s Summer Cup. Also big fan of their London Dry Gin too.

* Now, there’s a bit of contention around the theory that using hot water makes ice cubes freeze faster – but it’s worth a shot, right? And here are some good tips for storing ice too. Nothing more annoying than ice that tastes like random freezer contents.

* Sometimes the best summer tipple involves a simple and classic recipe, like this Dark and Stormy (Via Liqurious).

* No matter how small your living space is, I think it’s important to make room for a liquor cabinet – shoe box or bookshelf – wherever you can find the space! Here are some good tips for stocking up on the basics.

For non-alcoholic drinks:

Just because you (or your guests) are not hankering for a pick-me-up, it doesn’t mean that non-alcoholic drinks need to be boring. I love creating a punch for summer afternoon tea parties, and serving it in cute tea cups.

* When planning a picnic, add a nice bottle of lemonade, iced tea or simply sparkling water to your picnic basket to cater for those not drinking alcohol.

Rachel Khoo lemonade

* Frozen (seedless) grapes can add a cool summer touch to a punch bowl, or individual tumblers.

* Add mint springs to bottles of water for a fresh alternative (went a bit overboard…added a bit too much mint here!)

Rachel Khoo mint infused water

* Get creative with cordial. Steer clear of anything too brightly coloured – dangerous! Last time I was in Denmark I fell love with Elderflower cordial – its flavour is lovely and subtle.

Rachel Khoo Elderflower cordial

* Freezing berries in ice cube trays can add a fun touch (don’t get too carried away though, or things will start to look a little too 70s dinner party vibe).

Rachel Khoo raspberry ice cubes

* And how gorgeous are these ice cubes with edible flowers? Love this idea! (Also via Liqurious).

I’m looking forward to trying out some new recipes this summer, especially cocktails and punches brimming with lots of fresh fruit. Here are some ideas for you to try:

My Lingonberry and blueberry martini (recipe at bottom of blog post)

My picnic tips in my latest Evening Standard article

Strawberry Moonshine (white whiskey) Julep

Passion Fruit Summer Drink

Note: Remember to drink responsibly :)

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4 thoughts on “Ingredient of the month – Summer drinks!

  1. I love elderflower cordial too! With a bit of sparkling water and cucumber slices. Super refreshing for summer. Just wish we could have some summer weather in London!!

  2. Oh Rachel, your latest posts on summer, and picnic foods, has me longing to spend the summer in Paris! I would have a picnic everyday! I love your basket! What drink is in the first photo? Almost looks like a mimosa, perhaps?

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