Birthday Party DrinksAugust 30, 2010 at 8:08 AM | Posted in I am creative., Sometimes I cook. | 1 Comment
This is the third year we’ve had a backyard cookout for my birthday. Well, my birthday is really just an excuse for the party, but the party is inevitably the best part of my birthday weekend (followed closely by, if not tied with, the romantic birthday dinner Bill plans in a different surprise location each year). We serve tubs full of soda (in cans) and beer (in bottles) plus jugs of lemonade (from a mix) and sweet tea (brewed). Inspired by a summer sippers photo gallery on CHOW, but filled with nagging doubts, I decided to take a chance with something a little different in 2010.
Brew six quarts of green tea with two handfuls of mint sprigs; I did it in two batches in my Mr. Coffee Iced Tea Maker using 12 tea bags + one handful of mint (the leaves only from several sprigs) per batch. Stir in 1 1/2 cups sugar while the tea is warm. Once the tea has cooled, add 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 8 limes, I’d guess). Chill and serve.
NOTES: I made the sweetened tea the night before the party and froze some of it in ice cube trays and small containers. A few hours before the party I squeezed the limes and then added the cold tea, frozen chunks of tea, and fresh lime juice to my 2-gallon jug. This kept the tea cold throughout the afternoon and evening + tasted crisp and refreshing. I also labeled the jug with a sign as to its contents (see above).
Make a simple syrup by boiling 6 cups sugar with 3 cups water. Add 2 pounds of strawberries that have been cleaned and sliced. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in 1 1/4 cups basil leaves, and allow to cool for 45 minutes. Strain the mixture into a container, squeezing as much juice as possible out of the strawberries with a spatula or spoon. Add syrup to 12 cups water and 6 cups lemon juice. Chill and serve.
NOTES: I made the strawberry syrup the night before the party and refrigerated it in a sealed container. I also refrigerated a large bottle of ReaLemon. A few hours before the party I mixed the chilled syrup, chilled lemon juice, and 3 quarts of an ice/water mixture in my 2-gallon jug; okay, in truth, I had Anna do this. I also labeled the jug with a sign as to its contents (see above).
My gamble paid off and the drinks were a big hit. Not everyone liked them but enough people did that I consider it a success. And the tea was so easy to make — not that much different than what I do for a regular batch of sweet tea — that it wouldn’t be hard to make it for non-occasions.
Another gamble we made for the party was not serving hamburgers in addition to hot dogs. This year we decided to only serve hot dogs and flavored chicken sausages in an effort to simplify (i.e., one kind of bun and many fewer condiments). This was so much easier and not a single person asked, “Where are the hamburgers?” (Well, no one asked me anyway.) I think this is a practice we might adopt in the future.