Rosemary Lemonade Snowballs

Rosemary Snowballs

Rosemary Lemonade Snowballs made with fresh fallen snow. From back to front: Rosemary Limonade, Rosemary Citrus & Vanilla Rosemary Lemonade Snowballs.

Some of the simplest virgin drinks are lemonades. Creating simple syrups from citrus and herbs, and pouring a tall iced glass full of sweet and tangy refreshment is the classic summer drink. So what to do when it’s blustering on a winter day? Well when they give you lemons, make lemonade. And when they give you mounds of snow, make lemonade snowballs!

The three recipes are my favourites from a summer of research in preparation for this blog, each using rosemary as the herbal note in the drink along with either lemon or lime. Each is a intriguing drink as a lemonade, bright tart and delicious, but not too sweet. Cold numbs the taste buds somewhat, so syrups used for snow cones and slushes often have to be slightly more concentrated.  I thought it would be fun to see how these lemonade syrups stood up to the snowball test.

Each of these syrups I poured over about 1 1/2 cups packed snow to make a 3 inch snowball.

Rosemary Limonade

The Kitchen has a wonderful recipe for syrup that is based on limes. I’ve always found limes sweeter than lemons and the tartness of this drink provides quite a punch (as described in the original recipe which you can find here.)
The original recipe calls for 1 part syrup to 2 part water or soda water, however for my purposes I poured 2 oz syrup over snowball (yep real fresh clean snow, but you can make this with 1 1/2 cups shaved ice if you don’t have the benefit of freezing cold snowy winters).
Rosemary Lime Syrup
  • 1 cup lime juice (6 limes)
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • Peel of 2 limes
  • 2 (4 inch) sprigs rosemary

Mix juice and sugar, heat on medium until sugar dissolved. Add rest, lower to med-low and simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat, let cool overnight then strain and store.

My Thoughts: 

The original recipe is very strong and tart. The drink, as the recipe states, has a serious kick which is great for a thirst quencher and for those who like a more sour taste. We tested the drink as directed against the snow ball version, and the snow ball version is less sweet tasting but equally as sour. I tried cutting the syrup half and half with simple syrup for the snowball, which made the result still tart but pleasant and less likely to result in a “pucker power” face.

Rosemary Citrus Lemonade

The Kitchen also came up with this recipe using the both oranges and lemons, and  blending these with rosemary and honey for a wonderful flavour. The result is a wow factor to the drink that according to the the people at The Kitchen compares in flavour to Orangina.

The lemonade recipe calls for 2-3 tbsp syrup poured over ice and filled with water or soda water. When making this up I found that regular stirring was required to keep the syrup from sinking to the bottom of the glass. You can find the original recipe for this Rosmeary Citrus Lemonade here. The authors of The Kitchen mention that this syrup would make a fine granita, which would be a frozen version of the syrup, possibly straight up. So in keeping with the idea of this experiment I poured 2 oz syrup over snowball.

Rosemary Citrus Syrup
  • 2 lemons zest & juice
  • 2 oranges zest & juice
  • 4 4-inch sprigs rosemary
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cups honey

Bring to a Boil 1 min, remove from heat and cool 10 min. Strain and store.

My Thoughts:

This recipe as a drink  when diluted with water as instructed (1 part syrup to roughly 2 parts water) is very pleasant and the orange juice and additional sweetness the honey provides makes this the sweetest of these three drinks. We found the rosemary quite strong in this blend and if rosemary is not your preferred flavour you may want to reduce the amount in half.

As a snowball, the orange added more colour to the snow than the other two drinks, giving visual appeal, and the snow mixed in to the syrup reduced the sweetness of the drink but not the other flavour profiles.

Vanilla Rosemary Lemonade

This last recipe was found at MyRecipes.com and is little different in its creation and execution. The syrup for this recipe, unlike the others, doesn’t incorporate the citrus into the mix. Instead the lemon juice is added in equal portion to the syrup as a fresh squeezed component and mixed in glass. You can find the recipe for the original drink here.

Because the original drink doesn’t incorporate the lemon I adjusted the concept slightly to make it work for the snow ball.

Vanilla Rosemary Syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 3 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 3 cups water
  • fresh squeezed lemon juice (need 3 cups total)

Simmer all but the lemon juice until sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and let cool 30 minutes. Strain. Mix 1 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice with 1 oz syrup in a cocktail shaker. Shake and pour over snowball.

Makes about 24 servings. If you are making smaller servings squeeze lemons as you use the syrup and store the remaining syrup without mixing the lemon in. The syrup should last about 1 month in the fridge.

My Thoughts:

This drink is very tart both in the liquid and snowball form. This is probably due to the fresh lemon used with the vanilla rosemary syrup. I found that adding a bit of simple syrup to the drink made a big difference, and would recommend the following formula for the snow if you like things a little sweeter: 1/2 oz lemon juice, 1/2 oz simple syrup, 1 oz vanilla rosemary syrup.

Our Verdict:

For the sake of my tests I wanted clean fresh snow and had to live with what we mostly get: Powder. Great for skiing in, terrible for making snowballs out of. Warming the snow helped, so I left it in a bowl for a day (outside but near the house & covered) and by the next afternoon the snow was perfect for packing. It took about three cups of powder snow to make what would normally amount to one “packed snowball” which required hand packing without mitts (no fluff please!). After freezing my poor fingers, I realized one could pack the snow into a rounded bottomed glass and then simply tip the snowball out into the serving cup… much better, but not quite the same realness.

Pouring the syrups over the snow, once it was packed, did not fully saturate the snowball and the result was something that needed to be eaten with a spoon like granita. Stirring the snow up, and giving it a few seconds, allowed the flavour to blend into the snow more uniformly and after a minute or two the drink became, well, more drinkable. Kind of like a daiquiri.

But what about the taste? Well…

The Rosemary Limonade was the most powerful flavour of the three: the rosemary, sweetness and lime all blend for a tart and slightly sweet mix that is lovely, but more a slow sipper. The Rosemary Citrus Lemonade was the mildest and sweetest, easy to consume in large quantities with no “pucker power” (but possibly some mild brain freeze!). The Vanilla Rosemary Lemonade was the most sour, probably due to the high concentration of fresh lemon juice and low concentration of sugar in this recipe. The vanilla was lost though, masked by the stronger rosemary and lemon flavours, and I am not sure what the addition of that ingredient brings to the drink. (Guess that means further testing… next summer!)

So does super cooling the drink make a difference? According to an article in The Guardian the answer is yes. In fact, just as we found, the colder the beverage the sweetness will be less noticeable and the sourness of the drink will be more apparent. This explains why the limeade (which used the least amount of sugar and the strongest juice – 1 cup lime juice) was too strong at full strength, and the rosemary lemonade (where the syrup was diluted with lemon juice) did not taste very sweet, and lost some of it’s more interesting flavours to the cold.

These drinks could use something special for presentation.

These drinks could use something … fancy looking, to add a visual interest.

For presentation, these could use something… maybe a swirl of zest on a cocktail stick, a beautiful spoon for stirring, or a citrus wheel. I am hoping that Santa will bring some interesting accessories this year, cause there is not much in the way of local options, and shipping costs are a bit more than this girl can swallow.

General Review of idea below!

Kid-o-metre 4/5 The concept was super fun too much rosemary was not according to my kids.
Taste: 5/5 I made these over and over while we had fresh snow until I ran out of syrup… sometimes we blended syrups for more interesting flavours. Definitely a winter treat!
Simplicity: 4/5  not too hard to put together – snowball making skills may be required 🙂
Ingredient finding: 2/5 snow in abundance, rosemary not so much… And in warmer climates… I bet it’s the opposite!

 

Blackberry Peppercorn Lemonade Review

Black Pepper Syrup gives quite a kick to this virgin cocktail.

Black Pepper Syrup gives quite a kick to this virgin cocktail.

In creating drinks without the kick of alcoholic beverages, finding alternate ingredients to add the interest becomes part of the fun and challenge for mixologists.

Black pepper syrup is an intriguing idea – sweet but with a heat and a hint of acidy and a brilliant flavour complex. There are many recipes online for this syrup, generally recommending a combination of cracked and whole peppercorns along with water and sugar. The cracked peppercorns deliver more heat, while the whole fruit provides a more mellow and rich flavour complex. In drink mixing this syrup often is paired with grapefruit, citrus and/or berries, are added to martinis for added heat.

(If you are interested in the recipe for the syrup I will be using check my blog here where I use it in a snake venom shooter I created over halloween.)

When looking up virgin drinks, I found two that paired blackberries with peppercorn syrup and added lemon to round out the flavours. Our family tested both.

Black and Blue Lemonade

This first recipe from FoodRepublic has all the makings of a great summer drink. The combination of black pepper syrup, fresh berries, lemons and a hint of basil for additional interest are all seasonal —especially up north — and more likely to be found in the summer months. The drink calls for muddling fresh basil, blackberries in the syrup and adding to a combination of 2 parts lemon juice to 1 part soda water. This drink is a very fresh and bright tasting with a serious kick from the lemons and peppercorns. You can find the recipe here.

Black Pepper Lemonade

Dole foods promotes their frozen products with a lemonade using frozen blackberries. This is a great option for a drink that can be made all season. The recipe is simple, also using fresh lemon juice, black pepper syrup and blackberries muddled in a glass, strained and poured over ice. This is in my opinion more of a martini as the drink is left concentrated, but they recommend serving it over ice, which will help to dilute the taste. As an added interest, the recipe calls for a salt and pepper rimmer. You can find the entire recipe with the syrup they used, the rimmer and the drink here.
My Thoughts:
My family found the Black Pepper Lemonade sweeter and more flavourful than the the more earthy Black and Blue Lemonade. However the pepper is very prominent and we cut the recipe by half for the kids. The Salt & Pepper Rimmer was not popular amongst the younger crowd either, but as someone who adores peppercorn encrusted steak and tenderloin, the addition made the drink all that more spectacular. On a hot summer day though, I can see choosing the more subtle, tart and complex flavour of the Black and Blue Lemonade to quench my thirst, the brightness of the fresh ingredients and the fizz of the soda are a combination that is hard to resist.
At the end of the day our family voted. Black Pepper Lemonade came out victorious.
Kid-o-metre 5/5
Taste: 4/5 
preferred the non fizzy drink
Simplicity: 4/4 
for the Black Pepper Lemonade which was simpler to create
Ingredient finding: 3/5 
Blackberries (fresh and frozen) and basil are not commonly found all year locally.

 

The Elixir Review

Rosemary Citrus Spritzer

Rosemary Citrus Spritzer

When I first started working on virgin drinks, at the beginning of the summer, I made a bunch of drinks that existed online, to see what had been done, what I liked, and what concepts were out there. I found a site called The Kitchn where they discussed three amazing non alcoholic drinks served at a restaurant in New York called  Eleven Madison Park.

Now I am on the other side of the continent from New York, and much more north y’know. So of the three drinks, only one used ingredients that I could find in my local store – or heck anywhere close by for that matter. This drink was called the Elixir.

Using my pre-created syrups, some fresh mint from a friends garden and one additional syrup that I made for the drink, I whipped up a batch and served it to my family. Kids, adults, the whole lot of us all loved it without exception.

Here is the link to the recipe for Elixir. Thank you to Sam Lipp of Eleven Madison Park’s who shared these creations with The Kitchn’s team who shared it with the world.

Go check it out for yourself here!

Kid-o-metre 5/5
Taste: 5/5  This guy is a pro y’know
Simplicity: 4/5  Two syrups to make, but not hard to whip up.
Ingredient finding: 5/5 Even up north we can enjoy this New York taste.

Test Tube Shooters

Three Halloween Test Tube Shooters. From left to right: Snake Venom, Beetle Juice & Dragon's Breath.

Three Halloween Test Tube Shooters. From left to right: Snake Venom, Beetle Juice & Dragon’s Breath.

Halloween approaches. In a week my two girls will be out in full costume knocking on doors and filling their bag with loot.

For our family, halloween is about the dressing up and the spooky setting, about the fun of carving pumpkins and creativity.  Our decor is based on real scary things: spiders, snakes and scarecrows and later closer to halloween, jack-o’-lanterns and if possible the fog machine going just outside the door.

Being a mom of two girls has meant keeping the spooky and terrifying at bay, or be plagued with two small children with nightmares for weeks. Now that my eldest is maturing, she is able to differentiate real from imaginary, and is finding the world of myth and folklore fascinating. My youngest is asking for stories of elves, fairies, dragons and unicorns, and I am now the creator of magical tales in our home that both children are waiting to hear before bed.

So for my first venture into Halloween drink making – I have chosen to blend a little of the real with a little of the imagined in these three test tube shooters.

Snake Venom

The idea came to make a snake venom as I was working through scary liquids commonly held in test tubes. In chatting with my local pharmacist and friend, she tells me that snake venom is actually being used now in medicine! I can’t say that my beverage will have any healing effects – but it does have a bite.

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 oz Fresh squeezed grapefruit juice (preferably yellow)
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice (bottled)
  • 1/4 oz caramel syrup
  • 1/2 oz black pepper syrup (recipe below)
Procedure:

Mix all ingredients in a cocktail mixer with a few ice cubes. Shake well and strain into two 1 oz shot glasses or test tubes. Makes two 1 oz shots.

My Thoughts:

My eldest daughter, niece and I love this drink. It is spicy, sour, bitter and sweet all at once. My youngest daughter isn’t sure what to think of it, and while my husband was willing to try it his comment was ” I wouldn’t choose it”.

Kid-o-metre 3/5 older kid drink
Taste: 4/5 
gotta love sweet and sour to like this
Simplicity: 4/5  
Two recipes to make, one that takes a little time.
Ingredient finding: 4/5 
may not find yellow grapefruit, depends on season


Black Pepper Syrup

I originally found this recipe when working through blackberry lemonade options online. (Someday I’ll tell you all about that! Dole foods provided me with the recipe) This syrup recipe is pretty easy and super versatile. Because the sweet and spicy blend upon cooking, having this pre made is essential if you wish to add a peppery flavour to a sweet drink.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup black pepper corns – cracked
2 cups water
2 cups white sugar

Smash black pepper in a ziplock bag and add to pot with water and sugar. Bring to a simmer on medium high heat until all the sugar is resolved and for about 5 minutes more. Allow to cool and strain into a air tight container. Keep in fridge until use.

My Thoughts:

the original recipe called for toasting the pepper corns before infusing them in the syrup. I had mixed peppercorns – red, green and black – and chose to leave them plain. I don’t know what the flavour would be like toasted, possibly darker? Next time I need some of this I will test that theory, but the plain version seems to work well for now.


Dragon’s Breath

This was inspired by my youngest, as we wandered through the grocery isles wasting time before a job interview. Being that she’s huge into fairy creatures, and we had recently watched Shrek 3 for a “movie dinner night”, she suggested making a spicy drink. Originally she had hoped the drink would be called Dragon’s acid, however I pointed out that most dragon’s have hot breath – and this became acceptable.

Coming up with the perfect drink for this became a challenge. Originally I purchased tomato juice, limes and jalepeno peppers, but my non spicy husband and kids made me start searching for alternatives. Being an Epicure fan, I immediately started searching for my red pepper jelly, and came across a secret stash of my friends habanero jelly, gifted to me almost a year ago.

So with that as the starting point, I went back to the research to come up with fruits that paired with this ingredient. What I found was many ideas, all based on jellies, salsa and sauces. No prob! I can adapt that to a drink – sez I! So back to the kitchen, and to the fridge to pull out bottles of juice, specialty syrups and frozen juices I created earlier.

In order to come up with the best combo I tried a number of ideas – mint, grapefruit and jelly; garlic, tomato juice, lime and jelly; cranberry, honey, sour mix and jelly; and finally raspberries. Of all the combos my family and my spicy loving in-laws tried, this is the one that rocked it!

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 oz raspberry juice (recipe below) or store bought
  • 1/2 oz black pepper syrup
  • 1 tsp red habanero pepper jelly
  • 1 1/2 oz chopped fresh sweet red bell peppers
Procedure:

Muddle pepper syrup, red pepper jelly and fresh bell peppers in bottom of a cocktail mixer. Add 4-5 ice cubes and shake well. Add raspberry juice and shake to blend flavours. Strain into two shot glasses (1 oz each) or test tubes.

My thoughts:

Normally raspberry juice is so strong that it needs sweet to mellow it out. Incredibly enough, spicy will also do the trick! Who knew!

Can’t wait to unleash this on my daughters, who were both in bed by the time I had this all figured out.

I made my own raspberry juice – using frozen raspberries and blending them with water. In some locations you can get red raspberry juice easily, if so and it’s tart, go for it! In my town, not a possibility. you can find the recipe below.

Kid-o-metre ?/5 will keep you posted, my niece who is a teen loved it.
Taste: 5/5 
wow even my hubby liked it!
Simplicity: 4/5  
One recipes to make. One ingredient to find.
Ingredient finding: 5/5
 Red pepper jelly can substitute, making this easy to find all the ingredients for if you have internet and a credit card.


 Raspberry Juice
Ingredients:

1 bag frozen raspberries
2 cups water
1 tbsp citric acid

Heat berries in water to boiling. Turn down and simmer 10 minutes. Strain and press to get all juice out of berries. Add citric acid and stir to mix well. Store in fridge or pour into ice cube trays and freeze for later use.


Beetle Juice

It is said that some beetles have orangish blood. Since this next drink blends the bite of habanero peppers with the sweetness of cranberry and orange, I thought the name fitting. One may say that all drinks named this should be black and white, or that if one asked three times for this shooter, some ghoulish creature will appear and make your life miserable (or is that the cat in the hat?), so if you decide you want a third dose of this great halloween shooter – maybe ask for it by it’s scientific name: Coleoptera juice.

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 oz cranberry juice
  • 1/2 oz concentrated frozen orange juice
  • 1 tsp habanero jelly (the red stuff)
Procedure:

Mix all ingredients in a cocktail mixer with 2-3 ice cubes. Shake well to blend in jelly, strain into two shot glasses (1 oz each) or test tubes.

My thoughts:

Habenaro Jelly is the key ingredient in this recipe, but I can’t tell you where to buy it because I am lucky enough to have a super jelly making friend who keeps me topped up every christmas. The one jar often lasts our “non-spicy” family for the full year. There are plenty of recipes for DIY habenaro jelly, I would recommend one that keeps to simple ingredients without any added flavouring components – like on Food52 or My Pantry Shelf. Epicure makes a decent red pepper jelly, that can substitute for the real thing in a pinch.

My spice lovin’ niece and her mom both enjoyed this one. While I am not a fan of super hot flavours, this is a more gentle drink due to the sweetness of the cranberry. The spice is a slow burn that creeps up, so again if you have more than one… beware!

Kid-o-metre 3/5 older kid drink, the sweetness hits first then the spice.
Taste: 4/5 
some in my family are not fans of spicy concoctions. what are your thoughts?
Simplicity: 4/5  
If you can find the jelly, it’s a cinch to make.
Ingredient finding: 4/5 
When I find the jelly anywhere other than in my kitchen, I’ll let you know where to buy it!

Stay tuned for new halloween creations in next ten days!