Summer Drinks with Muddled Berries

Nothing says summer refreshment like smashed berries in a nice cold cocktail.

Come summertime, we love taking advantage of the sweet and tart goodness of berries. That’s why we are berry excited to partner with Ashley Rodriguez of Not Without Salt to share tips, insights and her favorite recipes using berries.

Short of a perfectly balanced pie, one could argue that there are no better endgames for ripe berries than in a drink. Their flavor, sweetness and vibrancy bring a whole new world of freshness to what would otherwise be an ordinary cocktail.

Sometimes all a berry needs is a good smashing — muddling, if bartending terms tickle your fancy — but certain berries benefit leaps and bounds when they’re cooked down to concentrate their fruity characteristics. That’s most certainly the case with strawberries, and once you make the below syrup for a Grown-Up Strawberry Lemonade, consider this equation: Warm day + This Drink = Happy You. Picnics, backyard parties, or just a night on the couch — this is summer on ice.

For the syrup, fresh strawberries mingle with Muscovado sugar to create a flavorful mixer. Muscovado is a less-refined sugar that is loaded with deep molasses flavor, but if you can’t find it light brown sugar fills in nicely.

Then, more fresh strawberries are muddled with lemon juice to release their sweet juice and helps to add even more strawberry flavor to the drink. There’s no need for fancy bar equipment here: If you don’t have a muddler simply use the handle of a wooden spoon. You’re not looking to pulverize the berries here but rather bruise them slightly to encourage them to release their fragrant flavor. You could puree the berries first if you prefer, but I like them left whole as they decorate the drink beautifully.

The beauty of making this in a pitcher is that it is ready for everyone at the party – even kids. But if the adults want a splash of vodka, gin or even tequila simply add a shot to a glass before topping off with the Strawberry Lemonade.

The final finish of black pepper sets this lemonade apart. It adds intrigue and a tickling warmth that finishes it all off perfectly.

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Make simple syrup simpler

The key to a flavorful fruit syrup is a low and slow simmer. Get precise heat with our Min-2-Max® Burner.

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Grown-Up Strawberry Lemonade

"When strawberries are no longer at their peak, raspberries or blackberries would fill in beautifully." - Ashley

Servings: 6

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Ingredients

1 pound strawberries, sliced

1/2 cup Muscovado sugar

3 1/2 cups water, divided

1 1/2 cups lemon juice (from 6 to 8 large lemons)

Vodka or Gin

Instructions

In a small saucepan combine 2 cups of the sliced strawberries with the Muscovado sugar and 1/2 cup water.

Bring the pot to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat then let cool. Cool completely in the fridge.

Strain the syrup through a mesh strainer, pressing firmly on the strawberries to push out some of their juices.

In a large pitcher add the lemon juice. Muddle the remaining sliced strawberries with the lemon juice.

Then stir in the syrup and the remaining 3 cups water.

Add a shot of vodka or gin to highball glasses filled with ice. Top with the lemonade making sure each glass gets a good bit of the strawberries.

Finish with a grinding or two of fresh cracked pepper. Serve on a sunny day.

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