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Rose and Strawberry Summer Drinks – Sangria or Lemonade

When your roses smell good enough to eat, drink them!

 It’s been an amazing rose season this year. The air, especially at dawn and dusk, is filled with beautiful perfume, and how we wish it would last. My favorite roses are the old garden roses, once-blooming heirloom treasures that carry so many flowers they bend under the weight. They are beautiful and intensely fragrant, so much more so than most of the modern roses. The old garden roses include my favorite Gallicas, Damasks, Albas, Rugosas, and Bourbons. They were all discovered or bred prior to 1867 when the first modern hybrid tea rose was created.  

It has also been an incredible strawberry season, and since rose and strawberry go so nicely together, what better way to feature them than a beverage for a gathering. Both alcoholic and nonalcoholic versions are refreshing and delicious, and you can control the flavors by how much rose simple syrup you choose to add, and how many strawberries.

First, floral simple syrups

It’s fun to make simple syrups out of edible flowers such as roses, lavender, violets, pansies, and lilacs, or a garden herb that strikes your fancy. You can use these syrups to sweeten any number of dishes and beverages. 

            Drizzle a bit over ice cream or sorbet, or a slice of pound cake. Better yet, use a simple syrup to infuse any cake to keep it moist and add flavor. Maybe you’d like a little ribbon of it over a wedge of brie. Add the syrups to glazes for fish and other proteins, or just to sweeten up berries and other fruits.

An easy process

            Most simple syrup recipes will call for equal parts of water, sugar, and the flower or herb. This mixture must be brought to a simmer until the sugar dissolves, and then steeped. Once steeped, usually overnight, you strain and have your simple syrup.

The most basic simple syrup is just water and sugar in equal parts, brought to a simmer until the sugar dissolves. If you like to sweeten cold beverages such as iced tea or coffee, the simple syrup is already dissolved, so no long stirring is necessary!

            Simple syrups are incredibly popular used in cocktails and mocktails, lemonades, sparkling drinks, and teas. Just to make things a little more interesting for a gathering, try making a big batch of fruity Sangria that uses a base of rosé wine and is flavored with rose simple syrup and sliced strawberries. It is beautiful to behold, and makes great use of all those rose petals ready to fall in your garden. 

A caution!

Always use untreated roses that are grown organically, and if you don’t know, ask. Roses from a florist’s are treated with fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides in heavy amounts so they can travel the continents, and are never intended to be consumed. 

First, start with the syrup:

Rose Simple Syrup

Use any rose that is grown without pesticides or other chemicals. Look for the most fragrant for the best tasting syrup.

The petals from a rose that is just going past are perfect here, and you can also toss in some dried petals from spent flowers. In the dead of winter, you can make this with food-grade dried rose petals. In all cases, remove any green parts.

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan, mix well, bring to a simmer. Continue simmering until all the sugar granules have dissolved. Cover, and let sit overnight. Then strain. Place in a jar or bottle and refrigerate. This makes about a pint.

Rose and Strawberry Sangria 

            Starting with a less amount of syrup if you don’t like things too sweet, place all the ingredients in a large pitcher, stir, taste, and correct if needed. Refrigerate to rest it for a few hours. Add some ice, and enjoy! Serve in chilled glasses.

You can substitute or add other fruits to this, such as cherries or raspberries!

Rose and Strawberry Lemonade

The best way to make pink lemonade is with a natural red fruit or berry!

My idea of lemonade is lemons and water, no sugar. However, most people do not like something so tart, so for a party or special gathering, it is fun to make something a little sweeter to please everyone! You can also leave out the rose simple syrup and let folks add their own according to what they like, then everyone is happy.

This is a very flavorful lemonade. You can easily omit the strawberries and rose elements if you want your lemonade straight up, just use a plain simple syrup to sweeten. The whole lemon adds just a touch of bitterness which balances the sour and sweet, and it gives nice pulp to the drink.

Place one whole lemon, chopped up, in a blender along with 1 cup of the water and the strawberries. Purée well. Place in a mixing pitcher and add the zest of five lemons. Cut the lemons in half and use a press or reamer to remove all the juice and add to the pitcher.

Add the rest of the water and the simple syrup and mix well. Taste and add a bit more syrup if you like it sweeter. The rose flavor is delightful but subtle here; if you want more rose flavor, add a few drops of rose water, but use a light hand.

Always mix it up again before serving as the pulp will float. If you want less pulp, just use half a lemon or omit it altogether if you prefer.

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