Summer mocktails

Pictured Above: Ginger Beer.

Pictured Above: Ginger Beer.

Refreshing summer drinks that can be enjoyed come rain, hail or shine, but hopefully with shine!

Ginger beer
Ginger is one of the oldest flavourings and is reported to have a number of positive medicinal properties, including helping to reduce inflammation and increase energy levels.

Ginger beer is relatively easy to make but expensive to buy in the shops, so it is well worth the effort of making a home brew batch.

There are plenty of recipes online and a number of ways of doing it, from Jamie Oliver’s simple three-step recipe to slightly more complicated methods involving yeast extract and pressurised bottles.

Being a glutton for punishment, I went down the complicated route. Gathering plastic bottles (glass bottles can explode, so avoid them), stealing my mother’s sieve and raiding the ginger supplies in my local Aldi. I was wrecked before even starting the brewing.

To start, peel the papery skin off the fresh ginger and grate it. For each two-litre bottle I used about two to three tablespoons of grated ginger, but it depends on your taste whether you use more or less.

Simmer in a pot with one cup of sugar and half a cup of water. I used a mix of white and muscovado sugar for a slight caramel flavour. When the sugar is melted, leave the mixture to sit for an hour or so. Strain with a sieve into a jug to remove the lumps of ginger.

Sprinkle ¹/8 of a teaspoon of dried yeast into an empty two-litre bottle. Then add the ginger mix, lemon and lime juice and fresh water, leaving a bit of space inside the bottle for the gas to build. Shake to mix it up and leave for two to three days to carbonate. (To avoid explosions, release some gas from the bottle each day!)

Note: the fermentation process can result in an extremely low alcohol level in this drink.

Iced tea
This is an easy drink to put together at short notice, and the flavours can be switched around to suit individual tastes. Lots of people are drinking herbal teas nowadays, so you might already have a couple of random boxes in the cupboard. Have a look in the supermarket too, as there are some really nice options such as Mixed Berry, Raspberry, and Strawberry and Peach. They are quite inexpensive considering how many batches one box of teabags will make.

Fill a glass jug up two-thirds with boiling water and a couple of teabags from your preferred flavour. Stir to release the flavour from the tea bags and then let it steep and cool for 30 minutes to an hour. Remove the teabags and fill the remaining space with fresh cold water before refrigerating.

Serve in a long, tall glass with lots of ice, slices of fresh lime or lemon, and some sugar syrup to sweeten it up.

Strawberry slushies
Perfect for a hot day! In a blender, blitz up fresh strawberries, ice cubes, pink lemonade and some fresh lime juice for a bright pink, icy slushie. Use small glasses as it’s a concentrated but mighty yield and, if needed, add a splash of sugar syrup.

Sugar syrup
This liquid sweetener can be made well in advance and kept for weeks in a bottle in the fridge. Slowly dissolve white sugar with equal parts water in a pot, stirring constantly until the liquid is completely clear (i.e. one cup of sugar with one cup of water, two cups of sugar to two cups of water and so on).

By Caoimhe Fox