Yesterday was absolutely gorgeous here in Pittsburgh. The temperature hovered in the upper-60’s all day, the sun was warm like your favorite blanket, and there was a wispy breeze that shot through the trees every so often. A perfect spring day that gave off a hint of summer, just waiting in the wings to bloom completely. It was the type of day that made me wish I had a house in the country with a wrap-around porch (or a house on the beach, with a patio or balcony overlooking the ocean), a big comfortable chair to sit in, a warm afternoon breeze, a favorite book, and some sort of ice cold, refreshing drink. That was my daydream. And this is my daydream drink.
Most people recognize the typical half-lemonade, half-iced tea drink as an “Arnold Palmer” – a drink popularized by its namesake, the golfer Arnold Palmer. Truth be told, I can usually take or leave both lemonade and iced tea. I like them well enough, but never crave them. However, black tea with fresh lemon juice, a ginger-spiked simple syrup and the refreshing bubbly of sparkling water sounded like summer perfection to me. And boy was I right. It’s definitely the drink I will make to celebrate my dream house in the country or on the beach!
Black tea, lemons, ginger and bubbles now seem like the most obvious combination of ingredients. Garnish with a little mint if you’d like and I think you’re set for summer. I know I am.
For the Ginger Simple Syrup:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
For the Lemonade:
2 cups water
3 black tea bags, preferably English breakfast tea
1-1/3 cups Ginger Simple Syrup, recipe follows
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice, from 3 to 4 lemons
1 cup sparkling water or club soda, chilled
2 cups ice
Lemon slices, for garnish, optional
1. Make the Ginger Simple Syrup: In a small saucepan, over medium heat, combine the sugar, water and ginger. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool, about 20 minutes. Strain before using.
2. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil over high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and add the tea bags. Stir and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Remove the tea bags and discard. Add the Ginger Simple Syrup, lemon juice, and sparkling water.
3. Put the ice in a large pitcher. Pour the lemonade mixture over the ice. Garnish with lemon slices and serve.