Monday, September 3, 2012
The end of summer is here. Even though its official departure is a few weeks ahead, just as Memorial Day starts its unofficial beginning, Labor Day marks its unofficial end.
As stores replace their summer decor with orange colors, maple leaves and pumpkins (I saw the first hint of orange in a store window display two weeks ago, and it somehow felt nauseating), nature, perhaps less abruptly, is beginning to show signs of changing seasons as well.
While I'm slightly surprised that even as I'm writing this, it is already September 3rd, whereas I was only getting used to the idea of summer, I am also somehow giddy about what's to come. Apple pies, pumpkin tarts, stews, roasts and mulled wine. Colder weather dishes for comfort on a rainy day.
Just as we marked the beginning of summer with a white sangria cocktail, we mark the beginning of fall with a tea cocktail. I had been sitting on this recipe, just as I had been sitting on a box of sample Pure Leaf iced teas, sent courtesy of Lipton, for about a month. I finally decided to make a Labor Day inspired iced tea and lemonade drink to soak up the last bits of summer.
The ingredients in this punch go well together, forming a sort of harmony. I used unsweetened Pure Leaf iced tea, lemonade, honey and brandy. I added fruitness to the drink by soaking up slices of fresh peaches, plums, kiwis and lemon wheels in honey-sweetened brandy before adding the iced tea and the lemonade. Honey, lemon and tea are old friends, brandy adds the requisite kick (but not so much, and it can also be omitted), and fruit adds wonderful freshness. Overall they make a refreshing beverage, perfect for a summer's end or an early fall party or a cookout.
Iced Tea Lemonade Punch
1 1/3 cup (315 ml) brandy
1/3 cup (80 ml) honey
1 to 1 1/2 cup (230 to 350 ml) sliced fruit (e.g. peaches, plums, kiwi, plus round lemon slices)
4 cups (9,5 dl) unsweetened iced tea
1 1/3 cups (315 ml) lemonade
Mint sprigs for garnish
In a measuring cup, stir brandy and honey until honey is fully dissolved. Place fruit on the bottom of a large glass punch bowl. Pour the brandy over the fruit, cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 20-30 minutes. Add tea and lemonade, and stir well. Cover and refrigerate for half an hour to one hour before serving. Serve by ladling into a stemless glass with a sprig of mint. Enjoy.