Non-Alcoholic Party Drinks & Infused Waters

June 29th, 2011 / Comments 9

After a warm welcome and brief introductions, the first question at most dinner parties is, “Red or white?” I rarely drink wine so my response is usually “Anything non-alcoholic would be fine.”

pitcher Non Alcoholic Party Drinks & Infused Waters

Watercolor painting by Carol Egbert

Often the choice is water, either still, fizzy or flavored, from a plastic bottle. Perhaps some of my non-alcoholic drink combinations will inspire you and at your next party you will ask your guests, “Red, white, spicy, fruity, sweet, minty, on the rocks or straight up?”

ginger ale label Non Alcoholic Party Drinks & Infused Waters

Label for your Ginger Syrup

Ginger ale made by the glass has a bright flavor and the ginger zing can be adjusted to suit the sipper. Not only do I use ginger syrup to make ginger ale, I also use it instead of sugar or honey to add zip to hot or iced tea. A pitcher of lime/ginger fizz along with the bottles of reds and whites makes every guest feel well taken care of. Ginger and clove syrups keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks. I have created labels for both that can be downloaded and printed by clicking here. I use the home brewers’ trick of using milk as the glue to stick the label to the bottle.Here’s how I make it:

Ginger Syrup

I combine half a cup, about six ounces, of finely diced of fresh ginger root, three cups of water and two cups of granulated sugar in a saucepan, bring it to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer the mixture for about twenty minutes or until it has thickened slightly and the volume has reduced by half. I strain the syrup and store it in a bottle in the fridge.

Ginger Ale by the Glass

Add two tablespoons of ginger syrup to a tall glass of soda water, add ice and stir.

Download and print ginger syrup and ginger ale recipes with ingredients lists here.

Lime/Ginger Fizz

I make this festive drink in the crystal pitcher that my Nana used for iced tea. I combine one and a half cups of ginger syrup, three-quarters of a cup of freshly squeezed lime juice, one liter of seltzer or sparkling water, ice and one thinly sliced lime.

I tasted clove-flavored lemonade at the farmers’ market and loved it. The cloves imparted a flavor that made the lemonade even more refreshing on a muggy day. I am particularly fond of serving clove lemonade with a curry dinner.

Clove Lemonade

I simmer two cups of water, two cups of sugar and one teaspoon of whole cloves over medium low heat for five minutes. I add one and a half cups of freshly squeezed lemon juice to the cooled and strained syrup. I make clove lemonade, by the glass, by combining three tablespoons of syrup with eight ounces of cold water and a couple of ice cubes.

With berries and concentrated orange juice, lemonade or limeade in the freezer, I can make a citrus berry drink in less time than it takes Charles to find the cork screw and uncork the wine.

Berry Citrus Sparklers

I use a wooden spoon to combine a cup and a half of frozen blueberries with a twelve ounce can of frozen orange juice concentrate, thirty six ounces of soda water and a cup of crushed ice to make blueberry orange sparklers. For strawberry lemonade, I replace the blueberries with frozen strawberries, the orange juice with frozen lemonade and use ice water rather than soda water. Next time I make this drink, I’m planning on using blackberries and limeade and adding couple of tablespoons of ginger syrup.

The most stylish drinks at the moment are infused water drinks. Infused water has virtually no calories and takes only a minute to put together but is best if made at least two hours before being served. The ingredients vary but the procedure doesn’t. You put your choice of sliced fruit, cucumbers and herbs into a pitcher, fill the pitcher two thirds full with filtered or spring water, top it off with ice and wait at least two hours and serve on the rocks. Here are some combinations to get you started; the suggested quantities are for a three-quart pitcher:

Pineapple Mint

One quarter of a fresh pineapple, peeled and cut into triangles, and two sprigs of fresh mint leaves.

Raspberry Basil

Two thirds of a cup of chopped fresh or frozen raspberries and a dozen whole basil leaves.

 

Cucumber Lemon Rosemary

Twelve thin slices of cucumber, six thin slices of lemon, two three-inch sprigs of fresh rosemary that has been slightly crushed.

Citrus Cilantro

This sunny lemon lime orange drink reminds me of Mexico. I pour spring water over slices of one lemon, one lime and one orange and a quarter of a cup of cilantro leaves.

Large metal tea balls, nylon infusers or pitchers with infusion cores can be used to make infused water, but I like “lumps” in my water and just put everything into a pitcher,  a blue and white ceramic one for weekday drinks and Nana’s crystal one for parties. Cheers!

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• 9 Responses to “Non-Alcoholic Party Drinks & Infused Waters”

  • Kirsten Elin says:

    OH SO GOOD!!! Yum yum

  • Nan Munsey says:

    Served the ginger ale to the Canaan Garden Club meeting on the lawn of the Enfield Shaker Museum this afternoon – 90 degrees and climbing. All loved it. I used to make a similar drink which originated in sub-Saharan Africa with more ginger, less sugar, orange juice, and seltzer. There must be a thousand variations and all thirst quenching.

  • Char Gardner says:

    These are most welcome — Clove lemonade will be perfect for today’s hot, muggy Baltimore weather.

    • Carol says:

      I remember you serving slices of lemon studded with cloves with Irish Breakfast tea in your apartment on Connecticut Avenue. Perhaps the inspiration for the clove lemonade?

  • I made both lemon and ginger syrups. Divine. I also printed out the labels and glued them on with milk. it all worked perfectly! I’ve been adding 1/2 fresh squeezed lime to the gingerale by the glass. Also making the lemonade a soda as well. Thanks for your wonderful recipes.

  • jean graubert says:

    what temperature do you reach for the ginger syrup? and do you ever add light corn syrup to it?

    • Carol says:

      I don’t use a thermometer when I make this. I cook it by eye, when it looks as if it has reduced enough I declare it done. No I don’t use cory syrup. I prefer the flavor of cane sugar.

    • Carol says:

      I don’t use a thermometer when I cook this I declare it ready when it looks right. I don’t use corn syrup because I prefer the taste of cane sugar.

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