Posts Tagged With: Drink

232/365: National Lemonade Day*

Pucker up, sweetie: August 20 is National Lemonade Day!

It’s also National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day, but boy, are we all pied out. And there are still more to come. (Incidentally, if that seems like an unusual pie flavor to you, we thought so, too. A little over a week ago we were at the Bite of Oregon festival in Portland, and stumbled upon a chocolate pecan pie that we ended up trying, without even being aware that this holiday was coming up. It was very good).

I’ve always had a soft spot for lemonade. I think this is because I’m not a big fan of soda, rarely drinking it (and when I do, it often contains alcohol). Lemonade is a tasty, refreshing alternative, especially on warm summer afternoons.

Lemonade is a sweetened beverage made with lemons, sugar, and water. It dates back to at least the 10th century, when Egyptians were making quite a profit selling the juice from lemons, which flourished in the region. Locals enjoyed the beverage mixed with lots of sugar. We know this thanks to Nasir-i-Khusraw, a Persian poet and traveler who wrote an extensive treatise on life in Egypt during this time. A typical excerpt read, “Woke up. Worshipped a cat. Drank lots of lemonade. Dinner with daddy and mummy. Bed time.” When told that too much of the sweetened concoction could cause tooth decay, Egyptians said, “no – you’re wrong.” Those folks were in de-Nile.

(Longest set-up to a punch line ever).

Actually, drinking lemonade can be healthy. Studies show that consuming 4 oz. of lemon juice mixed with two liters of water every day can help prevent kidney stones. On the downside, this may put you in a sour mood.

I’m here all week, folks.

There are numerous flavor combinations of lemonade, found throughout the world. Pink lemonade, made with the addition of grenadine syrup, is particularly popular. Almost any fresh, seasonal fruit can be mixed with lemons to form a tasty variation on the classic; popular additions include strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries. In the U.K., lemonade is typically carbonated, and similar to lemon-lime sodas such as Sprite or 7-Up. In Ireland, lemonade is available in three varieties: red, brown, and white. And in France, American-style lemonade is called “citronade.”

To celebrate, we made a pitcher of lemonade from a basic recipe:

  • 6 medium lemons (about 1 cup of juice)
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup sugar (adjust to taste)

Juice the lemons with a juicer or by hand. Rolling them on the counter with moderate pressure prior to juicing will result in more juice from each lemon. Try to keep out the seeds. If you prefer lemonade with no pulp, strain the juice to remove it. Dissolve the sugar in the water (heat may be helpful). Combine the juice with the sugar water in a pitcher and stir well. Chill or serve over ice cubes.

I’m happy to report, this seems to be the perfect ratio; Tara and I met up at home for lunch, and enjoyed some fresh lemonade. It was about a thousand times better than concentrate, too!

National Lemonade Day

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191/365: National Piña Colada Day*

If you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain, then put away your umbrella and “escape” to the tropics to enjoy today’s food holiday. July 10 is National Piña Colada Day!

It’s also National Pick Blueberries Day, but we’re working. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Besides, we’ll pay homage to blueberries tomorrow.

Before I continue, let’s go ahead and get this over with. If you’re like me, whenever you think of piña coladas, you end up with this Rupert Holmes song stuck in your head. So go ahead and indulge while reading on.

If you’re interested in a post where I dissect this song and offer some interesting information about it, feel free to check out my personal blog.

The piña colada (gotta get that squiggly line in there to make it official) is a tasty blend of rum, pineapple juice, and cream of coconut. It’s also the national drink of Puerto Rico. It’s name means “strained pineapple” and, while the first reference to mixing fresh pineapple juice with rum dates back to 1922, the drink itself wasn’t invented until 1952-ish. I say “ish” because, like many of the drinks we’ve celebrated this year, multiple people claim to have invented it. Depending on whom you believe, credit goes to either Ramón ‘Monchito’ Marrero Pérez at the Caribe Hilton Hotel’s Beachcomber Bar in San Juan, Puerto Rico on August 15, 1952. Ricardo Garcia, who worked at the same bar, says HE invented the drink. And Ramón Portas Mingot says sorry lads, I am the one who came up with the drink at the Barrachina Restaurant in San Juan in 1963. To this day, the restaurant backs up Mingot’s claim.

While those guys are busy duking it out over ownership rights, I’m content to settle back and whip up a fresh and tasty piña colada. They’re easy to make: just use equal parts rum, pineapple juice, and cream of coconut (we had no problem finding this in the mixed drink section of the grocery store). Blend with ice, add a tiny folding umbrella if you’ve got one, and sip away. You’ll be transported to paradise!

National Pina Colada Day

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161/365: National Iced Tea Day*

Tea-totallers of the world unite: the 10th of June pays homage to a refreshing beverage that can be either sweet or tart. It’s National Iced Tea Day!

It is also Herbs & Spices Day and Black Cow Day. Technically we also celebrated the former since we cooked dinner using herbs and spices, but that’s hardly unusual. And with so many desserts in the month of June, the Black Cow just didn’t moo-ve us. So, iced tea it was!

There’s a myth that a plantation owner named Richard Blechynden invented iced tea in 1904 at the St. Louis World’s Fair. According to legend, the weather was hot, and Blechynden’s tea wasn’t selling. So he added ice to the drink, and – voila! History was made. The only problem with this story is that recipes for iced tea date as far back as 1876 (Estelle Wilcox’s Buckeye Cookbook), plus the fact that iced tea was being sold at hotels and railroad stations during the latter half of the 19th century. Most likely Blechynden’s iced beverage merely helped to popularize the drink, especially when people realized how refreshing it tasted on a hot day. During Prohibition (1920-1933), iced tea’s popularity grew when liquor, beer, and wine were no longer available. Folks found it a decent enough substitute, but stumbled over the revised lyrics to the old ditty “99 Bottles of Iced Tea on the wall.”

Iced tea was originally made with green tea, but over the years black tea became the preferred choice thanks to inexpensive imports from India, Ceylon, South America, and Africa. Iced tea is most commonly served with a slice of lemon as garnish, and is often sweetened with sugar. In the South, “sweet tea” (a very strong brew with lots of sugar) is especially popular, helping Southerners deal with the heat and humidity. Bottled iced teas are available across the country, manufactured by brands such as Snapple, Lipton, and Nestea. In recent years, the Arnold Palmer (aka “Half and Half”) – a mixture of 1/2 iced tea and 1/2 lemonade, named after the legendary golfer who liked to combine the two at home – has become increasingly popular.

Iced tea is one of my favorite beverages, and I’m not alone: 85% of the tea consumed in America is iced. I’m not a big soda drinker, so 9 times out of 10 when I’m eating out I’ll order iced tea (assuming that alcohol is not in the mix, of course). (And sometimes when it is in the mix: vodka and iced tea ala Jeremiah Weed is a pretty tasty drink). So, I was more than happy to indulge! Tara and I love our Keurig coffeemaker, and have recently discovered Snapple Iced Tea k-cups. They come in both lemon and peach flavors, and each is delicious. We brewed some up tonight to go along with our dinner!

National Iced Tea Day

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17/365: National Hot Buttered Rum Day

Jack Sparrow would approve of today’s holiday: January 17th is National Hot Buttered Rum Day. Of all the various liquors, I think rum has the best flavor, so even though we recently celebrated a hot alcoholic beverage and didn’t care for it, I had high hopes for this drink.

In fact, hot buttered rum is closely related to the hot toddy. Both drinks are popular in the winter months (duh). But where the hot toddy is traditionally made with whiskey and honey, hot buttered rum is made with rum and butter (duh again). Plus brown sugar and spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. The drink was a big hit in Colonial America, and was created in the 1650s after colonists began importing molasses from Jamaica. They quickly learned this byproduct of sugarcane could be turned into rum, and a series of distilleries opened up across New England. (Similar attempts to turn maple syrup into bourbon, honey into wine, and the tears of Pocahontas into absinthe failed miserably). Soon they were adding rum to everything, including toddies and eggnogs.

Over the holidays, Tara and I saw containers of hot buttered rum mix for sale in area grocery stores. “Perfect,” we said. “We’ll pick some up later.” Only once later rolled around, the product had disappeared from grocer’s shelves. Oops. Had we not learned our own lesson about planning ahead? Fortunately, the internet yielded recipes for making your own hot buttered rum batter. It’s amazingly easy – here’s the one I used:

Recipe for Hot Buttered Rum Batter

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 oz unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp nutmeg or mace
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp salt

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients thoroughly. Refrigerate in a sealed air-tight container for up to two months. This mixture can also be frozen for up to one year before using. Makes eight servings.

Preparing a Hot Buttered Rum Cocktail

  • 2 Tbsp refrigerated hot buttered rum batter
  • 6 oz boiling water
  • 1 1/2 oz dark rum
  • 1 Tbsp light cream (optional)
  • nutmeg for garnish

In a hot beverage mug, combine hot buttered rum batter with boiling water, stirring well until dissolved. Add in rum and cream, if using. Garnish with a sprinkle of nutmeg. Serves one.

Remember how we didn’t like those hot toddies? Well, the hot buttered rum was…drumroll, please…DELICIOUS! Really, really good stuff. We were both impressed. I think we’ll have to make these an annual holiday tradition!

Hot buttered awesomeness is more like it!

Hot buttered awesomeness is more like it!

Categories: Alcohol, Beverages | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

11/365: National Hot Toddy Day*

January 11th is devoted to two food holidays. Or actually, two beverage holidays. It’s National Milk Day and National Hot Toddy Day. Milk may do a body good, but it’s boring and requires no special effort. I downed my morning pills with a glass of milk, and then ate a bowl of cereal for breakfast, while Tara took a few swigs to wash down her leftover brownie. Technically we could have considered this challenge complete and in the books by 6:45 AM, but the lure of the hot toddy was too strong to resist.

I can’t think of a more perfect time of year to celebrate a hot toddy. Winter is in full swing, and cold and flu season is upon us. In fact, the hot toddy was once prescribed by medical professionals as an ailment to treat the symptoms associated with colds and flu. The train of thought was that the vitamin C was useful for overall health, the honey to soothe the throat, and the alcohol to numb. Hey, it sure beats Nyquil! The exact origin of the hot toddy is unclear, but it is believed to have come from India, where a drink made from fermented palm sap (yum!) called the toddy was popular. Scottish members of the East India Trading Company returned to their native land and introduced a version of the drink to their country mates. Rumor has it sweet and citrusy ingredients were added to cut down on the harsh taste of Scottish whiskey. Odd, considering these are the same people whose national dish is made with sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs, and served in the animal’s stomach casing. But who am I to judge?

Although there are many variations, a traditional hot toddy is a mix of liquor (usually whiskey), boiling water, honey, lemon, and spices such as cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In other words, potpourri in a mug! Midwestern folk add ginger ale, while Wisconsinites substitute brandy. People in southern California make theirs using the tears of their fired agents. Err…tequila. They use tequila! Traditionalists that we are, Tara and I stuck with a recipe honoring the original presentation. (Not the palm sap version, the whiskey version). Here it is:


1 teaspoon honey
2 fluid ounces boiling water
1 ½ fluid ounces whiskey
3 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 slice lemon
1 pinch ground nutmeg

Pour the honey, boiling water, and whiskey into a mug. Spice it with the cloves and cinnamon, and put in the slice of lemon. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes so the flavors can mingle, then sprinkle with a pinch of nutmeg before serving.

The verdict?

IMAG0385 IMAG0384

Let’s just say, the Scottish should have added MORE ingredients to mask the whiskey.

And, I learned a valuable lesson on the economics of buying in bulk. We didn’t have cinnamon sticks or cloves, and when I went to the grocery store this evening to buy them, I almost choked over the prices. A jar of cinnamon sticks cost $5.89, ant the cloves were $4.99. I dutifully put them in my cart, and then stumbled across the organic foods section, where they were selling bulk spices. I grabbed a couple of bags, filled them with the amount necessary for the hot toddies, and ditched the jars. The cinnamon sticks cost me 30 cents and the cloves, 38 cents. I saved over $10 by purchasing in bulk. Whew! Who knew it was that cost effective?

Categories: Alcohol, Beverages | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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