Memorial Day was perfect in NYC. It was 73 and sunny – a great day for grilling and sitting outside. I decided it would be great to grill up a bunch of meat, and serve macaroni & cheese, bbq baked beans, and cole slaw on the side. To top it all off, I had to find a refreshing drink that would bring about thoughts of summer, cookouts, and good ol’ fashioned fun with friends. And since I’ve got a bun in the oven, it has to be virgin :)
There is a fantastic restaurant in Harlem called Evelyn’s Kitchen. The place is blowing up! It has definitely become one of our favorite spots to grab brunch or dinner. You are assured great food but also great drinks! The owner makes an amazing rosemary mint lemonade and that inspired my strawberry mint lemonade I made for Memorial Day. Not only was it delicious – it was GORGEOUS!
Strawberry Mint Lemonade
2c + 2.5qt water
15-20 mint leaves plus more for garnish
1c fresh squeezed lemon juice
lemon slices (for garnish)
strawberry slices (for garnish)
lemon-lime soda (optional)
Combine 2c water and 2c sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add mint leaves and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low once sugar is dissolved. Heat until it thickens and turns into a syrup (about 10 minutes). Pour into a separate bowl and discard mint leaves. Allow simple syrup to cool.
Technique: When making lemonade or iced tea or any sweet drink that is served cold and requires you to dissolve sugar in water, it’s best to make a simple syrup. Typically it’s made with a 1:1 water to sugar ratio (which I find to be plenty sweet) but you could also use double the amount of sugar to water if you need something potent. Using simple syrup as a sweetener allows you to steep flavor additions into the sweetener (like mint) and prevents sugar granules from collecting at the bottom of your pitcher.
Combine lemon juice, mint simple syrup, and 2.5qt water. Stir to combine. Add lemon slices, mint, and strawberries to lemonade about 6 hours before you’re ready to serve.
Optional: Fill glasses with ice, a little lemon-lime soda, and lemonade (and even a little vodka) for serving.
Adding soda to the lemonade really puts the icing on the cake and gives it a “sparkle”. For adults (and non-preggers) you can add a shot of vodka to the glass. Our guests had it all three ways and all three were a knockout!