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TIP OF THE DAY: Drinks For Mexican Independence Day

Tequila & Grapefruit Juice Cocktail

Bandera Shots

[1] The Paloma, said to be Mexico’s favorite tequila-based cocktail (photo courtesy [2] The Bandera comprises shots in green, white and red, the colors of the Mexican flag (photo courtesy [3] A layered bandora shot with chartreuse, maraschino liqueur (clear) and grenadine (photo courtesy


September 16th is Mexican Independence Day. It’s also National Guacamole Day. Coincidence? We think not!

Yesterday, we explained how Mexicans celebrated with shots of Reposda tequila, aged for up to a year.

But what if you don’t like drinking straight tequila?

You can enjoy another tequila cocktail or a non-alcoholic Mexican drink. Here are some of the most popular:

You can have a plain Mexican beer, of course. Bohemia, Corona, Dos Equis and others are commonly found across the country.

But if you like a bit of heat, have a Michelada (mee-cha-LAH-dah), a traditional cerveza preparada, or beer cocktail.

Michelada is a combination of beer, lime and hot sauce served over ice in a salt-rimmed glass. Chela is Mexican slang for a cold beer, combined with mixto, referring to the the mix of ingredients added to the beer. Eliminate the hot sauce and you’ve got a Chelada.

Here’s the complete Michelada recipe.

This cocktail couldn’t be easier: 3 parts grapefruit soda and 1 part tequila, served over ice cubes in a highball glass, garnished with a lime wedge. You can add an optional salt rim.

And you can make it by the pitcher-ful, which we’ll be doing tonight.

Paloma is the Spanish word for dove. In Mexico the soft drink of choice is Jarritos brand grapefruit soda (in the U.S., look for it at international markets or substitute Fresca.

You can purchase pink grapefruit soda from the premium mixer brand Q Drinks, or combine grapefruit juice with club soda or grapefruit-flavored club soda.

At better establishments, fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice is combined with club soda. Use pink grapefruit juice and you’ll have a Pink Paloma (our term for it).

Here’s the history of the Paloma from, which says it’s the most popular tequila-based cocktail in Mexico.

In Mexico the Bandera (flag), named after the flag of Mexico, consists of three shot glasses representing the colors of the flag (photo #2).

The first is filled with lime juice (for the green), the middle has white (silver) tequila, and the last contains sangrita (for the red), a chaser that usually contains orange and tomato juices. Here’s the recipe from Food Network.

You can also make layered shooter with liqueurs in the national colors (photo #3). Here’s a recipe.




In Spanish, agua fresca means fresh water.

In culinary terms, it refers to a variety of refreshing cold drinks that are sold by street vendors and at cafés throughout Mexico and other Latin American countries (photo #4). They’re also sold bottled at stores, and are easily whipped up at home.

Agua fresca is nonalcoholic and noncarbonated. The recipe can include a combination of fruits or veggies, flowers (like hibiscus), herbs and/or spices, cereals (barley, oats, rice), seeds (chia), even almond flour (which is used to make horchata, the next example).

A traditional agua fresca is an infused, sweetened water, flavored with fruits and/or vegetables—often a more complex layering of flavors than lemonade and limeade.

Our favorite combinations: watermelon (or any melon), basil cucumber and mint hibiscus. Here’s how to make them.

As you can see from this recipe template, it’s easy to mix your favorite flavors.

Agua de horchata—horchata for short—is a very popular recipe, made from ground almonds and rice spiced with cinnamon (photo #5). Other flavors such as coconut can be added.

Here’s a recipe from

It’s not conventional, but, you could add a shot of tequila or rum.

After all, it’s a day to celebrate!


Watermelon Agua Fresca

Mexican Soft Drink

[4] Whip up a pitcher of watermelon aqua fresca with this recipe from Whole Foods Markets. [5] Horchata, made from ground almonds and cooked rice, may sound unusual—but it’s unusually good (photo courtesy Noshon.It).




FOOD FUN: Getting Political With Snapple

Through Election Day (November 8th), you can drink to your political party with Snapple TEAcision 2016.

The new limited-edition flavors from Snapple include:

  • Blue Fruit Tea, a blend of blueberry and blackberry flavors
  • Red Fruit Tea, a blend of pomegranate, cherry and raspberry
    These “political” flavors follow on the heels of of the “patriotic” July 4th special edition, Oh Say Can You Tea, a black tea with strawberry flavor and a hint of mint.

    That flavor had this Snapple Real Fact on the back of the bottle cap: In Massachusetts, it’s illegal to dance to the National Anthem.

    What’s under the caps of Snapple TEAcision 2016?

    You’ll have to try them to find out!

    Stock up for election results-watching.


    Snapple TEAcision 2016

    Drink to your party with TEAcision 2016 (photo courtesy Snapple).




    PRODUCTS: For Summer Sipping

    Over the last few weeks, we’ve been sipping some new water and wine products, with happy results.

    We haven’t had much success with canned wines. They’re too sugary-sweet, more like soft drinks.

    But Latitude Beverage Company has introduced what they say is the first-ever premium wine collection in pull-top cans (top photo). Selecting good wines from wine regions that are well-known for the varietals, we can finally respond, “Bring on the cans!”

    The three varietals are just right for lighter summer fare: with a sandwich, some cheese, a pasta salad. Lila suggests these pairings:

  • Pinot Grigio, made with grapes from Delle Venezie IGT—the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of northwest Italy. Enjoy it with corn on the cob, crab cakes with lemon aïoli, olives and other “cocktail nibbles.”
  • Rosé, made with grapes from Provence, in the south of France. Pair it with shellfish, sandwiches with summer tomatoes, Caprese salad, pasta salad.
  • Sauvignon Blanc made with grapes from Marlborough, New Zealand. Pair it with oysters, avocado salad, grilled chicken, grilled fish with cilantro and lime, grilled vegetables, seafood salad sandwiches or turkey.
    So grab a can and head for the backyard, pool or the great outdoors. Attractively “dressed” in colorful graphics, these wines are ready to join the party.

    The 8.4-ounce cans come in four-packs with an MSRP of $12.99 (more at e-tailers). The four cans combined contain 33% more wine than the standard 750ml wine bottle.

    We stuck them in the freezer to partially freeze. They kept cold for quite a while outside in the heat; and since each can holds two servings, when it was time for the second, the wine was nicely chilled.

    Zero Water* turns your tap water into purified water—more pure, the company says, than the leading brand (Brita).

    Even if your municipality could clean your tap water to remove almost all the total dissolved solids (TDS), the water can pick up chemicals on its way from the treatment plant to your faucet.

    Zero Water’s unique filter removes 99.63% of all TDS. The filtered water tastes crisp and refreshing. Pitchers are available in 6, 8, 10 and 12 cup sizes; in a 23-cup countertop model; and in a 26-ounce travel tumblers. The 10-cup model shown in the photo is $32.99.

    You can see the entire line at


    Lila Wine Cans

    ZeroWater Pitcher

    Zero Water

    [1] Lila premium wines in 8.4-ounce cans (photo courtesy Latitude Beverage Company). [2] [3] Zero Water, with a patented filter that removes virtually all dissolved solids from your tap water, is available in home units and portable tumblers (photos courtesy Zero Water).

    Bonus: You can use Zero Water in your iron and other devices instead of purchasing bulky gallons of distilled water. The only difference between distilled and purified water is the process: distillation versus other purification processes such as reverse osmosis, ion exchange and Ozonation, among others.
    *We used a Zero Water system we received from the manufacturer, and did not test it against other systems. There are numerous online articles that compare the major brands.


    Define Fruit Infusing Water Bottle

    This model of Define water bottles is ideal for infusing fresh fruit (photo courtesy Define Bottle).



    We love “spa water”: plain water infused with fresh fruit. We’ve tried half a dozen water bottles with fruit-infusing options, and the Define Bottle Sport Flip Top is our favorite.

    The superior freezing mechanism, the detachable lower canister, gives you options:

  • Basic: add fruit to the bottom cylinder and add cold water to the entire unit.
  • Colder: Freeze the fruit, then add to the unit with cold water. As the fruit defrosts, it will keep the water colder.
  • Coldest: Freeze the fruit and water in the base cylinder.
  • Fruit-Free: Don’t feel like fruit? Use both cylinders for water. Even better, you can freeze water in the bottom cylinder and enjoy ice-cold water for 4-6 hours.
    Remember that water expands when frozen, so leave a half inch of space at the top.

    We drink the water quickly, but if you freeze the bottom part, you can keep adding new water and it will chill down.

    The bottle is made from Tritan, the standard in quality plastic food and beverage containers. The total capacity is 16 ounces. The bottle disassembles for easy† cleaning and the cylinders are dishwasher safe.

    There are other bottle designs and colors. See them all at You can purchase this bottle on Amazon.
    †We noted some complaints online about the difficulty of cleaning the strainer and gaskets. We keep a toothbrush with a rubber tip along with the scrub brushes at our kitchen sink. It, along with our faucet sprayer, did the trick.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Shrub, a.k.a. Drinking Vinegar

    There are shrubs for landscaping, and shrubs for drinking. The latter is an acidulated beverage: made with an acid such as vinegar, lemon or lime juice along with fruit juice, sugar and optional ingredients including herbs, spices and alcohol.

    The word is a transposition from the Arabic shurb, a cool drink.

    In the U.K. today, shrubs are popular fruity vinegar tonics. But they have not yet achieved a level of awareness in the U.S., even when called “drinking vinegar,” a modern term for the syrup that can be used to make cocktails and cocktails.

    Perhaps ten years ago, we were in the Japanese pavilion at a restaurant industry trade show and first encountered “drinking vinegar.” It was an exquisite shot for an after dinner drink: sweet and tart, complex, exciting.

    We treasured the bottles we picked up at the show, bringing them to dinners with connoisseur friends, where they were greatly appreciated. Then they were gone, and we moved on. We couldn’t find it for sale, and didn’t realize how easy it was to make it at home.

    But drinking vinegar moved on too, as vinegar-based shrub drinks began to be revived around 2011—on a limited basis at trendy bars and restaurants in the U.S., Canada and London.

    The acidity of a shrub makes it a fine digestif* or used as an alternative to bitters in cocktails.

    There two different types of shrubs, both acidulated mixed drinks:

  • The original shrub is a fruit liqueur mixed with rum or brandy, sugar and the juice or rinds of a citrus fruit. It evolved to syrup made of vinegar, sugar and fruit that was popular in England in the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • The second type of shrub, made on the other side of the pond, was a Colonial-era cocktail or soft drink made by mixing spirits with a vinegared syrup and water or carbonated† water.
  • Shrub can also refer to drinking vinegar, the vinegar-based syrup used to make the cocktail. The vinegar is often infused with fruit (or made with fruit juice), herbs and spices for use in mixed drinks or as a digestif†; and can serve as a sophisticated soft drink.

    Shrubs date to the 17th century (see the history of shrubs below). Fresh fruits were steeped in vinegar and sugar, and infused anywhere from overnight up to several days. The fruit solids were then strained out to create a sweet-and-tart concentrate that was mixed with spirits, water or sparkling water.

    Beyond mixology, today’s cooks also add “drinking vinegar” to sauces and salad dressings. We’ve drizzled them on lemon sorbet and rice pudding.

    You can buy artisan shrub syrups at specialty foods stores, but they tend to be pricey, like any top-quality drink mixer. You can find bottled shrub syrup in flavors like Apple, Ginger and Strawberry as well as compound flavors such as Apple Caraway, Blood Orange Cardamom, Blood Orange Ginger, Meyer Lemon Lavender, Smoked Spiced Pear, Watermelon Habanero (these compound flavors from Kansas City Canning Co.).

    But it costs very little to make your own.

    Some people use the ratio of one part fruit, one part sugar and one part vinegar for shrub syrup; but these proportions should vary according to the sweetness of the fruit. If the fruit is particularly sweet, you could cut back on the sugar and increase the fruit ratio.

    Think seasonally: berries and stone fruits in the summer; apples, pears and quince in the fall; blood oranges and grapefruits in the winter; strawberries, blackberries and pineapple in the spring.

    While apple cider vinegar is traditional, go beyond it to champagne vinegar, sherry vinegar and flavored vinegar (see the different types of vinegar and how to pair vinegars and foods).
    TO MAKE A SHRUB, combine 1 pound chopped fruit, 2 cups sugar and 2 cups apple cider or other vinegar.

    Use the instructions below. For an apple shrub, we cut back on the sugar.


    Prep time is 5 minutes plus 3-5 days infusing time.

    Ingredients For 3/4 Quart

  • 3 apples
  • 1-1/2 cups of apple cider vinegar (the best vinegar makes a difference)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • Optional: 1-2 sprigs of rosemary or thyme

    Strawberry Shrub

    Fresh Pineapple

    Stone Fruits

    Boyajian Vinegars

    Watermelon Shrub

    [1] A strawberry shrub (photo courtesy Quinciple). [2] We’re particularly fond of pineapple shrub (photo courtesy Del Monte). [3] In the summer, use stone fruits for your shrubs (photo courtesy Frog Hollow Farms). [4] Beyond apple cider vinegar, consider vinegars flavored with fruit, herbs and spices like these from Boyajian. [5] A bottle of watermelon-habanero shrub from Kansas City Canning Co. (photo © Laura Noll Photography).


    1. DICE the apples into very small pieces and place in a quart-size mason jar. Add the vinegar and sugar, and the herb sprigs. If there’s room at the top of the jar, add a few more splashes of vinegar.

    2. CAP the jar tightly and shake it a few times to blend in the sugar. Place the jar in the fridge for 3-5 days, shaking once or twice.

    3. TASTE the shrub after three days. If you like the intensity of flavor, strain out the fruit, first pressing the fruit with the back of the spoon to get all of the juice. Then, store the shrub in an airtight container. Otherwise, let it infuse for two more days.

    4. SERVE: Pour the shrub over ice and mix with sparkling water or make a cocktail. Or try it as a shot: We did, and really liked it.
    *A digestif is an alcoholic beverage served after a meal, in theory to aid digestion. Digestifs are usually taken straight, and include brandy, distilled spirits, eaux de vie (fruit brandy, Schnapps), fortified wine (madeira, port, sweet vermouth), grappa and liqueur. Here’s the difference between apéritif and digestif.

    †Carbonated water was first created in 1767 by British chemist Joseph Priestley, but was not manufactured commercially until J. J. Schweppe did so in 1783.


    Apple Shrub

    An apple shrub (photo courtesy Good Eggs). The recipe is above. Good Eggs also sells artisan shrubs in blackberry, lemon, lime, strawberry and quince. They’re pricey; hence the option to make your own.


    The shrub is infused (pun intended) with history.

    Originally, shrubs were developed as another way to preserve seasonal fruits for consumption throughout the year.

    The English shrub evolved from the medicinal cordials of the 15th century. As a mixture of fruit and alcohol, the shrub is related to the punch; however, punch is typically served immediately after mixing, while shrub syrup was stored as a mixer for later use.

    Shrub drinks were sold in English public houses in the 17th and 18th centuries; for the holiday season, shrub was mixed with raisins, honey, lemon, sherry and rum. The syrup was a common ingredient in punch. However, the drink fell out of fashion by the late 1800s.

    The Colonial American shrub derived from the English version. The vinegar was used as an alternative to citrus juices in the preservation of fruits.

    Shrubs remained popular for a longer period of time in the U.S.: through the 19th century. According to Wikipedia, shrubs fell out of popularity with the advent of home refrigeration (ice boxes), which enabled a wealth of other cold drinks.

    Vinegar-based shrub drinks appeared again in 2011-2012. Help to continue the trend: Make some shrub syrup(s) and invite friends over for shrubs.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Light & Luscious Summer Lunch

    It’s too darn hot. After a few days of downing pints of ice cream and sorbet, we started working on more nutritious fare.

    Beyond the green salads and fruit salads, we began playing with summer-specific tartness, the French word for open-face sandwiches.

    Tartine is the French word for an open-faced sandwich with a rich spread or fancy topping; the word actually refers to a slice of bread. Tartine is the French diminutive of the Old French and Middle English tarte, derived from the Late Latin torta, a type of bread. Here’s more about tartines.

    Tartines have faded from fashion in the U.S. After World War II, hearty open face roast beef or turkey sandwich with gravy were popular fare, eaten with a knife and fork. Ladies’ lunch rooms served more delicate versions, with smoked salmon and sliced cucumber or a lighter version of beef or turkey.

    But with much better bread available to us, it’s time to revisit the tartine. The ingredients can be seasonal: topped with melted cheese in cooler months, and with arugula, mesclun or sprouts in warmer ones.

    In fact, the vegetable bounty of summer calls out for tartines. The combinations are vast:

    Begin with choosing a bread that gives character to your tartine. You can serve it toasted or untoasted. Consider:

  • Flatbread for crunch
  • Multigrain for texture
  • Rustic loaves for crustiness
  • Specialty breads for flavor: cornmeal, olive, pistachio, raisin-walnut
  • Whole grain for fiber

    Anything spreadable goes on top of the bread. You can season any of the dairy products to taste.

  • Cream cheese, goat cheese, ricotta or whipped cottage cheese
  • Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • Hummus or babaganoush
  • Mashed avocado or guacamole, mashed green peas
  • Mayonnaise, flavored mayonnaise, pesto/mayo or mustard/
    mayo blend
  • Pita (see pita tartines)
  • Puréed vegetables

  • Berries, sliced avocado, figs, peaches, watermelon or other fruit
  • Ceviche, gravlax, herring or whitefish salad, sashimi, sardines, sliced shrimp, salmon or tuna tartare, smoked salmon
  • Heirloom tomatoes
  • Sliced feta or other cheese
  • Prosciutto or serrano ham
  • Sliced hard-boiled egg
  • Sliced radishes and/or cucumbers
  • Steak tartare
  • Steamed or grilled vegetables

  • Baby arugula, spinach or watercress
  • Celery leaves, sprouts or microgreens
  • Chopped herbs: basil, chives, cilantro, dill, parsley
  • Corn kernels, sliced olives
  • Frisée
  • Lemon or lime zest
  • Pickled onions or other pickled vegetables
  • Pine nuts or chopped pistachios
  • Shaved Parmesan or other firm or hard cheese

    Radish Tartine

    Asparagus-Hummus Tartine

    Heirloom Tomato Tartine

    Gravlax Tartine

    [1] Tartine of ricotta, radishes and chives (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour). [2] Hummus and fat sliced asparagus, topped with pine nuts (photo © Hannah Kaminsky| Bittersweet Blog). [3] Heirloom tomato tartine (photo courtesy Quinciple. [4] Goat cheese, gravlax and figs (photo courtesy Vermont Creamery).


    Cucumber Mint Spa Water

    Spa water with sliced cucumbers, lemons and mint (photo courtesy SunsetGrowers).


    Spa water—water seasoned with fruits and herbs—is the perfect complement to a summer tartine. Use at least a trio of these aromatics for flavor and fragrance.

    Here’s a recipe from Sunset Growers, which used its mini cucumbers:

    Ingredients For 8 Cups (2 Quarts, 1/2 Gallon)

  • 2-4 small cucumbers*, sliced (keeping the peel adds color)
  • 2-4 lemons and/or limes, thinly sliced
  • Handful of fresh mint (stems O.K.)

    1. ADD the ingredients to a large pitcher and fill with water. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

    2. SERVE over ice in large glasses or wine goblets, with a slice of cucumber and lemon in each serving.

    *We love cucumber-flavored water, so we used a large conventional cucumber. You can use any of the different types of cucumbers. Specialty cucumbers like the rippled Armenian cucumber and the Palace King with ripples of yellow on the dark green skin add interest in the pitcher.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Rickey, Cocktail Or Cocktail

    When we were in college, we went often to the Brigham’s Ice Cream Parlor in Harvard Square for a Raspberry-Lime Rickey. The coffee shop craze that began in Seattle had not yet become a destination elsewhere. Rickeys were the Frappuccinos of the day.

    To us, a Rickey was raspberry syrup mixed into club soda with a big squeeze of lime.

    We had no idea that the Rickey (originally the “Joe Rickey”) was a fizzy highball, created in 1883 at Shoomaker’s bar in Washington, D.C. (the different types of fizzy water).

    The drink was named for “Colonel” Joe Rickey, a Democratic lobbyist from Missouri. Each morning, he went to Shoomaker’s for a Bourbon with Apollinaris sparkling water over lump ice (today’s cubes).

    Cocktail history was changed one day when the bartender, said to be George A. Williamson, squeezed half a lime into the glass and tossed the squeezed lime in after it. The Rickey was born.

  • It has evolved to include simple syrup and bitters. If you want the authentic experience, tell the bartender.
  • Another variation substituted ginger ale for the fizzy water; but either way, the drink was served in a tall (highball) glass with lots of ice.
  • A decade later, the Gin Rickey became a worldwide cocktail sensation. It remains a relatively popular drink today, while Joe Rickey’s Bourbon Rickey has faded into obscurity.
    Omit the spirits altogether and you have a mocktail/soft drink that you can layer with other flavors. Omit the bitters in the cocktail and trade the simple syrup for fruit syrup, and you have the Raspberry-Lime Rickey of our youth (fondly referred to as a Razz-Lime Rickey. We had to have at least one a day).

    Create your signature Rickey: the [Your Name] Rickey instead of the Joe Rickey.

    Soft Drink Variations

  • In addition to the squeeze of lime, freeze pieces of lime to substitute for all or some of the ice.
  • Use a different fruit syrup. Blueberry Rickey? Peach Rickey?
  • Instead of fruit syrup, puréed the fruit. Fresh raspberries are better than syrup; frozen raspberries are just fine (and less expensive than fresh ones). Plus, you can use less sugar, another sweetener or no sweeter at all.
  • Garnish with a pick of matching fruit (raspberries, blueberries, cubed peaches, etc.)
  • Try flavored club soda.
  • Add bitters.
    Cocktail Variations

  • Try a different spirit. Tequila Rickey? Vodka Rickey? Flavored Vodka Rickey?
  • Play around with some of the modern flavored bitters: cardamom, grapefruit, lavender, orange, etc.

    We turned our college favorite, the Razz-Lime Rickey soft drink, into a cocktail.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2/3 to3/4 cup (3 ounces) fresh or frozen raspberries (or a store-bought raspberry syrup)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (omit if using raspberry syrup)
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 1/2 cup sparkling water
  • 2 ounces raspberry vodka
  • Ice
  • Garnish: fresh raspberries and/or a lime wheel or wedge

    Raspberry Lime Rickey

    Lime Rickey Recipe

    Blueberry Rickey

    Original Rickey

    [1] A Gin Rickey from from Elegant Affairs. [2] A Raspberry Lime Rickey soft drink rom [3] A Blueberry Rickey with a blueberry cocktail pick (photo courtesy Essence Designs). [4] The original Rickey, made with bourbon (the mint must be left over from a Mint Julep (photo via Tumblr).


    1. MAKE the raspberry-lime syrup: Place the raspberries in a bowl, sprinkle the sugar on top and add the lime juice. Mash with a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon. Set aside and let the mixture marinate for 10 minutes. Strain it through a sieve to remove the seeds.

    2. FILL a glass with ice and add the syrup add the sparkling water. Stir, add the vodka and stir again.

    3. TOP OFF with sparkling water. Garnish and serve

    You can make four drinks at a time with these proportions. In a pitcher combine as above:

  • 1-1/3 cups raspberries
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 3 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups sparkling water
  • 1 cup raspberry vodka
    Refrigerate until ready to serve. Stir again before pouring into ice-filled glasses.
    *The Brigham’s chain of ice cream parlors is defunct (along with its competitor, Bailey’s). The company closed most of its locations in 2008 and sold the rights to its ice cream brand to HP Hood. The chain declared bankruptcy in 2009, but Hood still produced quarts under the Brigham’s name, sold in supermarkets in New England.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Fancy Lemonade

    Lemon Grove

    Lemon Tree

    Meyer Lemons

    [1] A lemon grove (photo courtesy Condé Nast Traveler.[2] Ornamental lemon trees can be grown indoors (photo courtesy [3] Meyer lemons, less tart than the conventional supermarket lemon (photo courtesy


    It took a while for man to turn lemons into lemonade, the quintessential American summer drink.


    The origin of the lemon is still not certain, although food historians believe it may be Assam in northwestern India, where lemons have been cultivated for more than 2,500 years.

    It was brought to northern Burma and to China, across Persia and the Arab world to the Mediterranean.

  • Arab traders brought the lemons to the Middle East and Africa sometime after 100 C.E.
  • They are believed to have been introduced into southern Italy around 200 C.E.; and was being cultivated in Egypt and in Sumer, the southern portion of Mesopotamia, a few centuries later.
  • Citron, a different citrus, looking like a larger lemon with a very thick rind and very little pulp or juice, seems to have been known by Jews before the time of Christ. References to the round, yellow fruit grown by the Romans were to citron. The lemon does not appear to have been grown in the Middle East in pre-Islamic times.
    But for many centuries in the Middle East, lemons were not widely cultivated as food.

  • They were largely an ornamental plant in Middle Eastern gardens until about the 10th century. Arabs introduced the lemon to Spain in the 11th century, and by 1150, the lemon was widely cultivated in the Mediterranean.
  • The first clear written reference to the lemon tree dates from the early 10th century, in an Arabic work on farming.
  • Crusaders returning from Palestine brought lemons to the rest of Europe. The lemon came into full culinary use in Europe in the 15th century; the first major cultivation in Europe began in Genoa.
  • The name “lemon” first appeared around 1350–1400, and derives from the Middle English word limon. Limon is an Old French word, indicating that the lemon entered England via France. The Old French derives from the Italian limone, which dates back to the Arabic laymun or limun, from the Persian word limun.
  • Lemons came to the New World in 1493, when Christopher Columbus brought lemon seeds to Hispaniola. Spanish conquest spread the lemon throughout the New World, where it was still used mainly used as an ornamental plant, and for medicine.
  • Lemons were grown in California by 1751; and in the 1800s in Florida, they began to be used in cooking and flavoring. Commercial cultivation of lemons took hold in California and Florida in the 1800s.
  • Around 200 cultivars (distinct varieties) of lemon can be found in the U.S. alone. Some are best for lemon juice, some for lemon oil, and some are all-around. Some are more disease-resistant, some bear more fruit.
    Over the millennia, many different types of lemons evolved.

    One of the reasons it is difficult to trace lemon’s origin is adaptability to hybridization, as well as the vagueness of descriptions and awareness levels. A “round citron” reference may actually be a lemon, or vice versa.

    Depictions of citrus fruits in Roman mosaics such as found in Carthage in Tunisia, and frescoes preserved in Pompeii, may look like lemons but are not supported by any botanical or literary evidence (source).

    What we do know is that many varieties proliferated in semi-tropical climates around the world. Here’s a pictorial glossary of the different types of lemons.
    And the history of lemonade?

  • The earliest written evidence of lemonade comes from medieval Egypt in the writings of the Persian poet and traveler Nasir-i-Khusraw (1003-ca. 1061).

  • Records from the medieval Jewish community in Cairo (10th-13th centuries) show that bottles of lemon juice, called qatarmizat, were heavily sweetened with sugar. An 1104 reference shows a considerable trade in exporting lemon juice.
    Over the centuries, lemonade has been enhanced with fruits, herbs, spices and yes, alcohol.

    National Lemonade Day is August 20th, but why wait until then to enjoy these recipes?

    This recipe is adapted from Leanne Vogel of, for Strawberry Basil Italian Lemonade.

    Italian lemonade uses mineral water; you can use whatever water you like.

    You may want to soak the basil overnight, or first thing in the morning.



    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 24 organic strawberries, hulled
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • Ultrafine sugar*, simple syrup or other sweetener to taste
  • 2 quarts mineral water
  • 48 basil leaves, washed and stems removed and divided
  • 2 cups ice cubes
  • Optional garnish:
  • Straws
    *Ultrafine sugar dissolves more easily because the grains are much smaller. You can turn table sugar into ultrafine by pulsing it in a food processor.

    1. SOAK half of the basil in the mineral water for 6-8 hour and refrigerates.

    2. CRUSH the strawberries in a large bowl with a muddler or a potato masher, until they can be sipped through a straw. Add the lemon juice and sweetener, stir and refrigerate. When ready to serve…

    3. Add 2 spoonfuls of strawberry purée to the bottom of 8 glasses. Add 2 fresh basil leaves (not soaked) and a couple of ice cubes. Pour mineral water over the top and serve with straws.

  • Jalapeño Lemonade Recipe
  • Lavender Lemonade Recipe
  • Mint Lemonade Recipe
  • Peach Lemonade Recipe
  • Sparkling Melon Lemonade Recipe
  • Spicy Lemonade Recipe

  • Blueberry Lemonade Cocktail Recipe
  • Lemonade 485 Cocktail Recipe
  • Limoncello Lemonade Recipe
  • Tequila Lemonade Recipe
  • Saké Lemonade Recipe

    Let us know!


    Strawberry Basil Lemonade

    Lavender Lemonade

    Jalapeno Lemonade

    [1] Strawberry Basil Lemonade, the recipe at left (photo courtesy [2] Lavender lemonade (recipe, photo © Edith Frincu | Dreamstime). [3] Jalapeño Lemonade (recipe, photo courtesy



    TIP OF THE DAY: Summer Mocktails

    In the heat* of the summer, not every cocktail fan wants alcohol; and not everyone drinks alcohol, preferring a cocktail.

    So mixologists created the most tempting mocktails we’ve seen: just like a creative cocktails served at hot spots.

    By layering complex flavors, you’ll never know the alcohol is missing. We’ve included two recipes below, created by Richard Woos for SushiSamba New York. You may utter words like “Where am I supposed to get these ingredients?”

    But use them as a guideline. Mixologists have many more ingredients to play with than we do. You can substitute, or be inspired to create something entirely different with coconut water, fruit juices, sweet herbs, etc. Think of the flavors you like and mix away!

    For those who want a bit of kick, add a shot of sochu (shochu), half the proof of vodka.

    These cocktails were created by Richard Woods for SUSHISAMBA NYC, so they have an Asian twist.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 ounce aloe water/juice**
  • 1.5 ounces lychee juice
  • .5 ounce yuzu juice
  • 1 ounce pineapple and tarragon simple syrup†
  • 3-4 organic rose petals (no pesticide!)
  • Crushed ice
  • Garnish: dehydrated pineapple ring, large mint sprig, organic rose bud

    1. COMBINE the ingredients and swizzle through crushed ice. Then swizzle in the rose petals.

    2. GARNISH and serve.


    Summer Mocktail

    Summer Mocktail

    [1] Aloe, lychee and yuzu are a glorious combination. [2] Yuzu and elderflower liqueur with a shiso garnish.


    This drink is a combination of two of our favorite flavors, yuzu and lychee, with a shiso garnish (thus the name, yu + shi). The elderflower liquer tastes very much like lychee liqueur (but better).

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • .75 ounce yuzu juice
  • 1.5 ounces shiso sugar syrup
  • 1 bar spoon†† elderflower cordial (Saint-Germain is heavenly, and also great with Champagne)
  • 2 ounces soda water (club soda)
  • Ice
  • Optional garnishes: shisho leaf (substitute basil) or lychees on a pick

    1. SHAKE the first three ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker. Add the soda water and roll the shaker to blend.

    2. DOUBLE strain, garnish and serve.
    *Drinking alcohol makes you feel warmer as your blood alcohol level rises, but it does not actually raise your body temperature.

    **Aloe water is a great base for cocktails and cocktails—or for drinking straight. It’s also available in flavors, from the three major melons to strawberry and pineapple. NOTE: If you don’t like orange juice with pulp, you won’t like aloe water: It has pieces of aloe pulp.

    †Heres’s how to make simple syrup. You can infuse whatever you like in it. You can also purchase simple syrup. Sonoma Syrup Co. makes a multitude of flavors, from from ginger to lavender.

    ††A bar spoon is equivalent to a teaspoon, but has a much longer handle so it can mix ingredients in tall glasses. It’s typically stainless steel and the handle is twisted in a decorative way. Here’s a bar spoon photo.



    JULY 4TH DRINK: Red, White & Blueberry Lemonade & Hard Lemonade

    For cookouts and picnics, our family never had everyday soft drinks. For these special occasions, the beverage menu included lemonade, iced tea and Mom’s favorite fruit punch (recipe: equal parts of grape juice, lemonade and orange juice, all from frozen concentrate).

    For July 4th, we switched to a “patriotic” lemonade: red, white and blue. The ingredients: pink lemonade tinted darker with some food color, white ice cubes and blueberries inside the ice cubes.

    Beyond red food color, there are different ways to tint the lemonade a deep rose:

  • Add some red juice: blood orange, cherry, currant, cranberry, grape, pomegranate or watermelon juice.
  • Hibiscus tea (buy the tea and brew it).
  • Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger, Raspberry Zinger or Watermelon-Lime Zinger tea, all of which are blends that contain hibiscus.
    The herbal teas are delicious iced, so instead of lemonade, you can make patriotic—and caffeine-free—iced tea!

    For adults, keep bottles of gin, lemon liqueur, tequila or vodka (especially lemon-flavored vodka) next to the pitcher with a shot glass and a mixing spoon, and allow the grown-ups to add what they like.

    First, make the white and blue ice cubes. You may need to start making batches a couple of days in advance, depending on how many ice cube trays you have and how many guests you expect.

    This recipe makes enough cubes for a quart of lemonade, assuming 3 cubes per glass.

    Ingredients For 12 Ice Cubes (One Tray)

  • 36 fresh blueberries (about 1/4 cup)
  • Water

    1. PLACE 3 berries in each of 12 ice cube compartments.

    2. FILL with water and freeze. Remove the frozen cubes to a freezer storage bag to use the tray for another batch.

    While you can purchase pink lemonade in a large format, frozen concentrate is less expensive—and lighter to carry! If you want sugar-free lemonade, you can use Crystal Light (we prefer the taste of their regular lemonade to the pink lemonade; or squeeze fresh lemonade and add your sweetener of choice.

    Ingredients For 1 Quart (Four 1-Cup Servings)

  • 1 can pink lemonade concentrate (frozen)
  • Red color of choice (see list above)
  • 1¼ cups fresh blueberries, divided
  • Blueberry ice cubes (recipe below)
  • Optional: gin, limoncello, orange liqueur, tequila, vodka
  • Optional: straws (you can find them in white with red and/or blue stripes)

    1. ADD water to the lemonade concentrate per package instructions. Then add the coloring agent to get the desired shade. Note that excepting food color, the more juice you add, the less the drink will taste like classic lemonade. But there’s nothing wrong with that! ss measuring cup or other container. Microwave on high until hot, about 1 minute.

    2. STIR until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon juice and enough water to make 1 quart. If the red color isn’t strong enough for you, add a drop of food color or some juice to create your preferred shade. Chill.

    3. FILL tall glasses with the blueberry ice cubes. Add the lemonade and optional spirits.

  • Spicy Hot Lemonade Recipe
  • Homemade Lemonade With Red & Blue Berries
  • Regular Lemonade With A Blueberry & Raspberry Cocktail Pick


    Hibiscus Iced Tea

    Pint Of Fresh Blueberries

    Minute Maid Pink Lemonade Concentrate

    [1] Red, white and blue lemonade (photo courtesy [2] We added some hibiscus iced tea to make the frozen pink lemonade in the top photo a deeper rose color (photo of hibiscus tea courtesy Republic Of Tea). [3] A pint of blueberries for the ice cubes (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [4] Pink lemonade concentrate (photo courtesy Minute Maid).




    TIP OF THE DAY: Frozen Fruit “Ice Cubes”

    We love to flavor water with fresh fruit, and to add fruit to ice cubes.

    Here’s a twist on conventional ice cubes: Use frozen fruit instead of ice cubes.

    We have long made “party ice cubes” with a strawberry or other fruit (plus herbs, or savory ice cubes like cherry tomatoes and basil) embedded in an ice cube, but with frozen fruit only, there’s no surrounding ice to dilute the drink.

    The only advisory:

  • Plain frozen fruit alone works better for drinks that are already chilled.
  • Fruits embedded in ice cubes will keep frozen longer, and are better for room temperature drinks.
  • However, watermelon, with its higher water content, can be cut into ice cube shape. The flavor doesn’t work with every beverage, but when it does, it’s terrific!

  • Wash and pat dry fresh strawberries or other fruit. If the leaves on strawberries are perky-looking, you can leave them on.
  • Place the fruit in the freezer in a pan, spaced so they don’t freeze together. When the fruit is frozen, you can remove it to a storage bag.
  • The easy way: Purchase bags of frozen fruit and use two or more varieties in each glass—strawberries and sliced peaches, for example.
  • Match the fruits to the flavors and colors of the drinks: cherry ice cubes, citrus (we love blood orange or grapefruit), cucumbers, grapes (use mixed colors), melon (try melon balls), other berries and sliced stone fruits.
  • Don’t stockpile the frozen fruit or fruit ice cubes: Make only what you’ll use within a week.

  • Coconut Water Ice Cubes
  • Flower Ice Cubes
  • July 4th Ice Cubes
  • Strawberry-Thyme Ice Cubes
  • Tea, Coffee Or Lemonade Ice Cubes
  • Wine Ice Cubes


    Fruit Ice Cubes

    Top: Freeze fruit to substitute for ice cubes (photo courtesy California Pizza Kitchen). Bottom: The more conventional way: Add fruit or herbs to the water before freezing the ice (photo courtesy Zespri| Facebook).




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