Every meal needs a beverage. Although water is fine, it isn't very festive. These tips are not rocket science. But they will help you make great cold drinks for a picnic, a brunch, a July 4th bar-b-cue, or any other meal.
- Strong, brewed tea or coffee, cooled down slowly makes the best iced tea or coffee.
- For ice cubes, use ones made from the beverages (tea, coffee, juice) the ice cubes will go into.
- Get creative - make your own “Arnold Palmer” (half lemonade/half iced tea) or use lemon in iced coffee.
Chilled beverages tend to taste less intense than those served at room temperature or hot. So if you want your iced tea or iced coffee to have taste as well as color, make it strong. Take the time to brew the tea or coffee and let it cool down slowly. Have you ever had a barista pour hot coffee over ice cubes and hand it to you? That’s not an iced drink; it’s a weak, tepid and barely drinkable mistake. If you make hot tea or coffee and simply put it on the counter until it stops steaming, then put it in the refrigerator to cool further, you’ll have excellent, strong chilled tea or coffee that won’t be diluted when you add ice cubes. For tea, I use 1 tea bag per 8 ounces of boiling water, plus one additional bag “for the pot” as the British say. Coffee measurements depend on the type of coffee maker you have – just keep the brew strong. If you are going to sweeten iced tea or coffee, add the sugar, honey, agave or other sweetener while the beverage is still hot, because the sweetener won’t dissolve in cool liquid.
For delicious ice cubes, all you need is an ice cube tray, beverage and a freezer. Pour room temperature (or chilled) tea, coffee, or juice into the ice cube tray, freeze for a couple of hours, and voila. No more sad-looking, watery-tasting drinks when you add ice.
Juice drinks are refreshing and even better when they’re creative too. Try making an “Arnold Palmer” (named after the famous golfer), which is half lemonade and half iced tea. For Arnold Palmers or straight iced tea, I like to try different teas. “Black” tea works well, as do herbal teas and ones with fruit flavors like peach. And for iced coffee, instead of adding milk, try lemon peel.
Enjoy planning your holiday festivities. I’ll be back on Friday with an easy, do-ahead salad for your July 4th bar-b-cue or dinner.