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The Cookstr 10: Ten Cool Summer Drinks

July 26, 2010

Did you know that July 23rd of last week was actually National “Hot Enough for Ya?” Day? It’s hard to remember a July that’s so fittingly earned the holiday. But we’re tired of standing around in front of the air conditioner with our shirts lifted up (what? you don’t do that?). We’re people of action, we’re problem solvers, and this is a job for…Blender Man!

Adam Ried's Watermelon Agua Fresca

Sorry, a little delirious from the heat; it’s okay, we’re okay. But the blender, which is usually stored in the way back of a high cabinet, is now sitting in its rightful summer place, smack dab in the middle of the counter, plugged in, awaiting duty. Ice cubes clinking into the glass container, the whir of the blades creating something frothy. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade; but if life gives you watermelon and some fine rum, well then, you, my friend, will be making a daiquiri.

Arlen Gargagliano's Jamaican Banana Cooler

P.S. We threw in a few other icy drinks for those who are blender-free at the moment. Just because you don’t have a blender doesn’t mean you aren’t hot.

1. Mollie Katzen’s Cantaloupe-Peach Smoothie. Smoothies are a great pick-me-up all year round, but right now there’s a plethora of ripe produce for the grabbing that can turn into a thick–and healthy–treat. This one is so pretty in pink-ishey orange you may find yourself planning an outfit to go with it.

2. Andrew Chase’s Creamy Coffee Slushy. Start with crazy strong coffee so the flavor will stand up to the ice when you blend up your very homemade version of everyone’s favorite $4 drink.

3. Adam Ried’s Watermelon Agua Fresca. Watermelon is one of the fruits that morphs into a beverage effortlessly, given its high water content and built-in sweetness. Whoever invented seedless watermelon should get extra points, just for how delightful it is to use the fruit in drinks such as this freezing cold flavored water that you can chug all day long, all summer long.

4. Sharon Tyler Herbst’s Mango Lassi. Lassi, come home! Heat also makes us just plain goofy. A lassi is a thick, cooling Indian or Pakistani dairy-based beverage. You can use fresh mangoes, which are in season, or mango pulp, and choose between milk, yogurt, and buttermilk.

Deborah Schneider's Mexican Mojito

5. Deborah Schneider’s Mexican Mojito. Mojitos were invented in Cuba, and rum is their base booze, but viewed through a Mexican prism, the substitution of tequila is inspired. A hint of mint (can you believe heat makes us rhyme, too?), a squeeze of lime, and a quick James Bond-like shake makes this a sexy instant-gratification cocktail.

Nigella Lawson's Watermelon Daiquiri

6. Nigella Lawson’s Watermelon Daiquiri. This isn’t much more than watermelon, ice, and rum, but the slushy pink concoction beckoning from the wide-rimmed glass is absolutely what summer cocktail hour was made for. Keep chunks of watermelon in the freezer, and you can buzz this drink up (pun slightly intended) any night of the week.

7. Arlen Gargagliano’s Jamaican Banana Cooler. Is it a cocktail? Is it a milkshake? Is it a dessert? Oh, these are the kinds of 20-question games we love…Rum, crème de cacao, ice cream, bananas, all whirred up until a little umbrella can stand up straight and tall.

8. Michael Chiarello’s Whole Citrus Margarita. This blended version of an all-time favorite drink relies on not only the juices of oranges, lemons, and limes, but the skins as well, resulting in a truly tricked-out margarita. Buy very fresh, untreated produce, since you’ll be using the whole fruit.

9. Steve Poses’ Four Seasons of Iced Tea. Even though the Iced Berry Tea is singled out as the summer flavor, you’re well within your rights to try the Fresh Mint, Indian Spiced or Honey-Sweetened Green Tea all year long, and the iced tea police will not appear at your door. No need for a blender here, just plenty of ice.

10. David Rosengarten’s Gazpacho in a Pitcher. Gazpacho is most often thought of as a soup, but really it kind of depends how you serve it. In a bowl with chunks of veggies and a spoon, yep, it’s a soup all right. But pureed to a beautiful smooth consistency, with some bread and olive oil binding it all together, poured from a pitcher into glasses? Now that’s a refreshing summer drink

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