Wow! Autumn is almost here, and most of us will welcome its cooler temps after the heat we’ve experienced this summer. We tend to reach for a cool drink in the heat, but early autumn is noted for its comfortably warm afternoons. No matter what the season, herb flavoured drinks are always in demand.
Mint, contains menthol, the ingredient most often found in cooling balms and used to settle indigestion.
Mint Grapefruit Tea
4 sprigs of fresh mint, ½ teaspoon sugar; crushed ice; ½ teaspoon lemon juice; 2 tablespoon grapefruit juice; ½ cup chilled tonic water. 1. Crush two of the sprigs of mint with the sugar and put into a glass, fill the glass with crushed ice. 2. Add lemon juice, grapefruit juice and tonic water. Stir gently and decorate with the remaining mint sprigs and slices of lemon, if desired add a splash of vokda, gin, bourbon or white rum.
On cool autunm evenings, try a warming mint toddy: Ingredients: 4 mint leaves (muddled to release oils),1 ounce of bourbon, ½ teaspon of honey, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, hot water to taste. Directions: Place mint leaves in a glass, pour in bourbon, honey and lemon juice and add in hot water. Try about 1/3 cup of hot water, use less if you like a stronger drink or add more if you prefer a milder taste.
Many distillers are now manufacturing flavoured alcohol, especially vodka. If you have a garden full of fresh herbs, or your favourite taste is something like lemon balm, there’s no reason you cannot infuse the flavours yourself. The procedure is pretty basic, make sure your herbs are free of moisture, put about ½ cup into a clean quart jar, add the zest of a medium organic lemon cut in wide strips, add one bottle of vodka (750ml, at least 80 proof). Put the lid on tightly and store ina cool dark place for 3 days (shake daily). Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or coffee filter. Bottle and store in a cool dark place for up to one year. HINT: when substituting dry herbs for fresh, use 1/3 the amount of dried to the amount of fresh called for in the recipe.
Fennel, another digestive herb is also an excellent cooler and source of natural vitamin C.
1 tablespoon fennel seeds; 1 tablespoon fresh lemon balm or peppermint or chamomile (if desired). 1. Bring 1 ¼ cups of water to a boil. Place fennel seeds and lemon balm in a large mug. Pour the boiling water over the herbs and steep covered for 5 minutes. Strain and add honey if you wish to sweeten (not for kids under two) HINT: soak the fennel seeds overnight. Strain and rather than giving the water to your plants, drink with a pinch of sugar, black salt and a squeeze of lemon for a quick energizer.
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