Friday Night Cocktails: The Watermelon Mint Agua Fresca

agua fresca

Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, it’s a new cocktail recipe! But first, if I asked you what the significance of Cinco de Mayo was, would you be able to answer? If you said “Mexican Independence Day” you’d be…not right. Mexican independence is actually celebrated Sept.16. Instead, Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over the French forces of Napoleon III on May 5, 1862, at the Battle of Puebla. It has really become more of an American holiday excuse to drink margaritas.

Today I would like to introduce you to the Agua Fresca, which is a traditional Mexican drink that when translated means “fresh water”. Aguas Frescas are designed to beat the heat of summer and are refreshing and delicious. They are typically made of fresh fruit, water, and optional sugar. If you want to know more about aguas frescas, click here.

This delicious recipe would be perfect for a BBQ, and I guarantee the kids would love it. To make it “adult”, add a shot of vodka or gin to each serving.

Not for nothing, but watermelon is full of lycopene (actually it has the most lycopene per serving than any fruit or veggie) which is a powerful antioxidant. The lime juice has a good deal of vitamin c and mint is great for soothing the digestive system, which is perfect if you’ve overindulged at the BBQ. If you add just a bit of sugar it makes for a yummy treat that doesn’t include artificial colors, flavors or other additives.

This recipe, adapted from Epicurious, serves about 6.

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup sugar

5 cups peeled, seeded, coarsely chopped watermelon (from about a 2 1/2-pound watermelon). Make it easy on yourself and buy pre-chopped watermelon if you desire.

1/4 cup fresh lime juice. I( also like prepared lime juice such as this one. I do this about 50% of the time)

Mint sprigs for serving

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine mint leaves, sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a small pot. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar has dissolved. Transfer mixture to a heatproof container and chill, uncovered, until cool, about 30 minutes.

Strain mint syrup into a blender; discard mint leaves. Add watermelon and lime juice and blend until very smooth. Using a fine-mesh sieve, strain into a pitcher; discard solids. Add 2 cups water and stir well to combine. Serve with mint sprigs. If bubbles are desired, top off with a splash of soda water.

Aqua fresca can be stored in an airtight container and chilled for up to 1 day.

 

Enjoy!

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Weekend Cocktails: The Ginger Margarita

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Photo credit: Pixabay

 

Weekend Cocktails: The Ginger Margarita

weekend-cocktails

I have done a pretty mediocre to poor job of posting actual health and wellness information recently, thanks to a busy summer and back to school madness. That’s ok, though. Hopefully the joy of trying new cocktails will blur this failure until I can get back on track.

Yesterday I was chatting with a fellow cocktail-lover who happens to be one of my favorite golf and paddle partners (Hi Ellen!) and I asked her what her favorite cocktail ingredients were. She answered “tequila and ginger”. Wow! What a fun combination. Tequila, with its smooth taste, and ginger with its spiciness.  I guarantee you she isn’t messing around with subpar tequila, either. Only 100% agave tequila is the way to go for exceptional cocktails.

I couldn’t really remember a time I ever had a cocktail that included tequila and ginger. So, I told Ellen I would do some research and come up with a cocktail that she might like. In searching I found the Ginger Margarita, served up, which seems perfect. Just the other day I introduced Ellen to my favorite cocktail in the history of cocktails, the Aviation. I love it because it’s bright and smooth and slightly sweet, and because it’s served up (I sometimes get frustrated with rocks cocktails because I like to sip my drinks, and the ice tends to dilute the flavors too quickly for me). Ellen really enjoyed it which doesn’t surprise me because she has excellent taste.

The good news is that ginger is highly anti-inflammatory as well as excellent for the digestive system. And tequila has been thought to be better than other liquor for you because it’s lower in simple sugars. As always, moderation with alcohol is the key, regardless of what you are drinking!

So Ellen, this Ginger Margarita is for you. I think the baker in you will really enjoy making your own ginger simple syrup. Cheers!

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Weekend Cocktails: Watermelon Frosé

weekend-cocktails

Watermelon is in season right now, so I think it makes sense to try a cold, icy, refreshing cocktail made out of summer’s most famous fruit. Add the “wine of summer” (I literally just coined this term so I should probably TM it or something) and you have yourself a cocktail that will please just about everyone. Recently, on vacation with extended family, we made this recipe. It was really refreshing and perfect after a long day on the beach.

If you want some health reasons to drink this, just remember that watermelon is full of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. It also has a very high water content so it will help rehydrate you (just remember alcohol is dehydrating and toxic in large quantities so please don’t think you can go drinking a gallon of this or anything). Moderate wine drinkers (no more than two glasses a day) have a 34 percent lower mortality rate than beer or spirits drinkers according to this article. It also tells us we have lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, heart disease, stroke, and brain decline. So, you know, enjoy this drink! I love that this recipe has no added sugar. Watermelon is sweet enough. And wine, while labels aren’t required to list added sugar , almost always has at least a little.

watermelon

+

rose wine

=

fireworks

The thing about using wine in a cocktail recipe is that you can use a less expensive bottle and no one will be the wiser. So grab that $7 bottle of rosé from Trader Joe’s and let’s get started.

INGREDIENTS: (makes 2 cocktails)

4 cups frozen watermelon cubes

10 oz rosé

Juice of one lime

INSTRUCTIONS:

Cube the watermelon (or if you’re feeling really luxurious, buy it already cubed).

Spread the watermelon evenly on a jelly roll pan. Place in freezer for an hour or more, until solidly frozen.

Place the watermelon, rosé and lime juice in a blender. Blend until smooth. Serve with lime wedges and sprigs of mint.

ENJOY!

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Maybe It’s Time For Friday Cocktails Again. The Classic Daquiri

daquiri

Maybe when you saw the word “daiquiri” you were immediately envisioning those huge overly sweet frozen drinks you imbibed in your early 20’s (or now, I’m not judging).

The Classic Daiquiri is *not* that. Not even close. Invented in the late 1800’s in Cuba, the Daiquiri as it was imagined is fresh, light, and slightly sweet. It was also Ernest Hemingway’s favorite drink. We know he loved his drinks, so I sort of trust his judgement on this one.

It’s got only three ingredients (quality matters, so choose well). The best part is that it’s super easy to make and even easier to drink. Perfect for a Friday night when you’ve had that kind of week. Maybe it’ll become your new favorite.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 ounces light rum
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice (honestly, you could also try this if you’re feeling lazy)
  • 1/4 ounce simple syrup or super fine sugar

Instructions:

Pour the rum, lime juice and sugar into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into your favorite cocktail glass. An antique champagne coupe would be fun!

 

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Maybe It’s The Weekend And Weekends Were Made For Cocktails! The Rhubarbarita.

It occurred to me that maybe some of you might think that I drink a lot of cocktails every week, seeing as I’m so enamored with trying new recipes. Truth be told, I drink maybe two a week, so I’m sorry to burst your bubble. I do have a small glass of red wine most nights. You know, for the resveratrol. I’m a very compliant patient, and since Mayo Clinic’s website says red wine is good for the heart (in small doses) then I feel like it’s my duty to oblige.

Anyway, it’s the weekend, and for me that usually means trying a new cocktail recipe (or at the very least an old favorite). This recipe for a twist on the classic margarita enticed me. It’s rhubarb season in Minnesota, so naturally a recipe for Rhubarbaritas seem like just the thing.

It’s supposed to hit 84 degrees here in the Twin Cities today. A cold summery beverage is maybe (definitely) in order. Cheers!

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Mocktails — Green Tea Mojitos

cocktailsmocktails

My 12 year old daughter is having a sleepover tonight and instead of the usual soda, I think I will make this Green Tea Mojito recipe for them to try (obviously as a mocktail).  I want to test it out for an upcoming dinner party we are attending. The dinner party is on St. Patrick’s Day and I have a 5k the next morning that I’ve been actually training for these last couple of months. And I want to do well. Generally if you want to do your best in a 5k you do all the right things the night before, which includes getting enough sleep, eating nutritiously  and abstaining from alcohol. Totally boring, I know. But I’m committed this time!  My usual M.O. is to sign up for a 5k with plans to “really train this time”.  And then a week before the race I realize that I methodically have trained 3x week using a calendar that I’ve printed out and taped up on the wall failed to do any training whatsoever. So I suck it up and do the 5k and want to die by 1/4 mile in because I’m not at all prepared. But something clicked for me this past fall and I’ve been as committed to my exercise as I have been to my other healthy habits. Hence the “dry” St. Patrick’s Day.

I thought this recipe with green mint looked fun for St. Patty’s day . I love mint and I love green tea. Did you know green tea has lots of antioxidants and cancer-fighting polyphenols? Studies have also shown that people who drink green tea regularly have less belly fat, lower cholesterol, and better blood sugar control.  The original calls for white rum, and I figure I can bring a carafe of the mix without the alcohol and people can add it if they want.

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!

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Super Bowl Cocktails — The Grapefruit Margarita

grapefruit-margarita

Seems like just a year ago I was posting a recipe for Super Bowl Cocktails. Oh, right! How time flies. The Spicy Michelada was last year’s pick. This year I’m going in a different direction by not including beer in the mix.  And we are going sweet instead of savory.

So for this Super Bowl I’m featuring a Grapefruit Margarita. Margaritas are universally loved, but it’s always fun to do something a little different with them for special occasions. And I love the idea of giving a nod to the Mexican culture so prevalent in Texas.

This cocktail features the bright and fresh flavors of grapefruit and lime. And after the past couple of weeks here in the U.S., I think we could all use a little bright and fresh, don’t you agree?

What I love about this recipe is that it’s super easy to make and doesn’t take a lot of time, which frees up your hands for eating too many finger foods (guilty as charged) and making crude totally appropriate gestures at the referees.

NOTE: If you feel like adding some heat to the recipe, place a sliced round of fresh jalapeño pepper at the bottom of the cocktail shaker and muddle it with the ingredients. You can also add a few shakes of chili powder to the salt for a spicy rim (just keep it 3 parts salt to 1 part chili powder)

INGREDIENTS:
2 ounces tequila
1 ounce Cointreau
1 ounce pink grapefruit juice
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice (keep the wedges for a garnish)
Ice cubes
1 slice of fresh jalapeño (optional)
Course salt for the rim of the glass (optional)
Chili powder for the salt rim (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Combine all the ingredients up to the salt in a cocktail shaker and shake for 10 seconds. Strain into a margarita (served up) or a rocks glass (served over ice) with a salt rim (use the lime wedge to wet the rim). Garnish with lime wedge.

GO TEAM!

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