Top five easy homemade summer drinks

In the warmer weather, nothing beats a lazy afternoon relaxing in the garden with friends and a long, cool drink.

Here are our top five homemade drinks for summer – put them in a thermos flask with some ice to take on picnics or journeys, as well.

Homemade St Clements

A refreshing mixture of orange and lemon juice, this is tangy and refreshing. You’ll need:

  • 2 unwaxed lemons
  • 2 large oranges
  • around 100g sugar
  • 1 litre of water

Zest the oranges and lemons and put the zest in a pan with 100ml of the water and the sugar. Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.

Leave to cool. Meanwhile, juice the lemons and oranges, removing the seeds but keeping the pulp.

Combine the syrup, remaining water and fruit juice and pulp. Serve with ice and a slice of orange on the side of the glass.

This is best enjoyed fresh, but will keep in the fridge for a few days. Store it in a bottle with a lid, and shake the bottle before serving.

Homemade elderflower cordial

Collecting the elderflowers for this cordial is all part of the fun! For a more adult drink, mix a measure of gin with sparkling water and add cordial to taste.

You’ll need:

  • 2kg white sugar
  • 2 unwaxed lemons
  • 20 to 25 fresh elderflower heads, washed and checked for insects!
  • 85g citric acid (available from chemists)

Trim the elderflower stalks right up to the base. Put the sugar in a large pan with 1.5 litres of water, and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Chop the lemons into small pieces, skin and all. Put the flowers, lemon and citric acid in the pan with the sugar, cover it with a clean tea towel and leave to infuse for 24 hours.

If you have a jelly bag, put the flower mixture into that and let it drip through into a clean bowl. If not, line a colander with a muslin or clean tea towel.

Discard anything left in the towel or bag, and bottle the cordial into clean, sterilised jars or bottles.

To use, dilute with water to taste. The cordial will keep in the fridge for several weeks

Iced mint tea

This one really couldn’t be simpler – particularly if you have lots of mint in your garden.

All you need is two good handfuls of mint leaves (with no pesticides), washed and stripped from the stalks.

Put them in a teapot, fill the pot with boiling water and leave to infuse. You can drink it hot, but if you leave it to cool and serve it over ice it tastes like summer in a glass!

Sweeten to taste.

Blackberry syrup

This syrup is delicious topped up with sparkling water as a drink, but also works well poured over ice cream.

You’ll need:
250g blackberries
125g sugar

Put the sugar and 250ml water in a pan and stir gently over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.

Add the blackberries, and bring the pan to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for around 5 to 7 minutes until the fruit is soft and pulpy.

Pass the mixture through a sieve, and leave to cool. Mix with still or sparkling water and a dash of lemon juice, to taste. The syrup will keep in the fridge for a week or so.

Raspberry peach iced tea

A delicious, fruity twist on an American classic. Frozen or tinned raspberries will work as well if you can’t get fresh.

You’ll need:

2 English breakfast tea bags
150g raspberries
2 ripe peaches, skinned, stoned and cut into quarters
3 tablespoons sugar, or to taste

Brew the tea to the strength you like it, using around 1 litre of water.

Remove the tea bags and let it cool. Put the peaches, raspberries and sugar in a blender and blend until smooth, then pass the mixture through a sieve.

Mix the sieved mixture into the tea, and refrigerate until cold. Best enjoyed immediately.

By Sara Walker

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