Thursday, July 31, 2014

Just Do It: Pink Lemonade for Grown-ups

Hi. You know when you want to be doing something regularly but you're out of the habit? And you can come up with tons of excuses for why not do this thing that you do, truly, deep down in your heart, I think so anyway, want to do - some excuses 100% valid, some sort of random and artificial? That's what's been going on with me and the blogosphere. I got out of practice and I super lost my groove. And I feel badly about that because I've actually got a few recipes worth sharing. (There goes one excuse.) So today I'm just doing it. I'm posting about this fantastic pink lemonade.


I'm not going to tell you why it's sort of loaded and emotional for me to post about it. I'm not going to try to put into words the amazing summer-vacation-esque magic that hibiscus brings to boring old lemonade. I'm just going to give you a recipe worth making and hope that, since I'm just doing it, you'll just make it. It's divine. And pink! Which is fun.

Hibiscus Simple Syrup
Yields 1 1/2 cups

1 cup sugar*
1 cup water
2 tablespoons dried hibiscus leaves** (I got mine in bulk from the Wedge co-op, in the spice/tea section)

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved and the mixture is pretty hot (3-5 minutes). Stir in hibiscus leaves and allow to steep for 10 minutes or so. Strain into a glass jar and chill.

* Don't be all granola and use rapadura or coconut sugar here. Part of this recipe's allure is the beautiful ruby-red color that sugar-water takes on when infused with hibiscus leaves. I made it with coconut sugar once and it was way less pretty.

** My hibiscus leaves were old. At least a year old. I bought them way back when with a mind to recreate (to no avail) the spicy hibiscus punch that's sold at Bread & Pickle by Lake Harriet (a-may-zing, with all  kinds of clovey-limey complex weirdness/goodness). Anyway, I mention that to suggest that you might not need two whole tablespoons to get a lot of flavor if your hibiscus leaves are fresher. 

Hibiscus Lemonade, i.e. Pink Lemonade for Grown-ups

Per 4-oz glass of lemonade, combine the following in a glass half-filled with ice and give it a good stir:

Juice of 1/2 an average-sized, average-juicy lemon (~2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons hibiscus simple syrup (or more, to taste (my husband, for instance, preferred 3 tablespoons of simple syrup, but he also prefers frozen juice concentrate combined with 2 containers as opposed to the standard 3-4))
1/3 cup sparkling or still water (or a little more if you like your beverages less sweet)

Oh, you thought I meant that kind of grown-up beverage? Well okay. In place of water, add 3 tablespoons vodka and a splash of soda water (2-3 tablespoons).

If you want to make 6 servings, combine the following in a big glass jar or small pitcher and chill:

Juice of 3 lemons (3/4 cup)
3/4 - 1 cup hibiscus simple syrup
2 cups sparkling or still water or 1 cup sparkling water/soda + 1 cup vodka

Serve over ice. Enjoy!

Now I'm going to make some salads. Because these are salad days as well as lemonade days, aren't they?

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