Cooling Summery Drinks

May 19, 2015 Updated: May 19, 2015

As summer nears and friends gather in the garden or on the patio, it’s nice to have a selection of interesting drinks to try. Of course, there’s always lemonade and white wine, but why not surprise guests with Indian Lassi, or perhaps a classic woodruff-scented May Bowl, thought in the Middle Ages to heal “all sicknesses that come from heat.” Another interesting drink is the low-potency brew called Kvass, a much-loved beverage in pre-revolutionary Russia.

Lassi

Makes 2 servings

• 375 ml (1 1/2 cups) plain natural yogurt
• 40 ml (3 tbsp) 35 percent cream
• 75 ml (6 tbsp) sugar
• 15 ml (1 tbsp) rosewater
• 9 or 10 ice cubes

Combine yogurt, cream, sugar and rosewater in the container of an electric blender and blend for about 30 seconds or until the sugar is dissolved. Add the ice cubes one at a time and continue blending until the drink gets frothy.

May Wine Bowl

Makes 24 punch cups

• 125 ml (1/2 cup) dried woodruff (a classic German herb found at health food stores)
• 125 ml (1/2 cup) sugar
• 3 bottles Moselle wine, chilled
• 24 fresh strawberries

Marinate the woodruff for two hours with the sugar and one bottle of the chilled wine. Pour into a glass punch bowl. Add the rest of the wine just before serving. Ladle into punch cups or glasses and garnish with the strawberries.

Tip: If a sparkling May Wine Bowl, which is more festive, is more to your liking, substitute one bottle of well-chilled dry champagne for one bottle of Moselle.

Kvass

• 10 slices dark sour pumpernickel bread
• 1 litre (4 cups) boiling water
• 15 ml (1 tbsp) malt
• 25 to 40 ml (2 to 3 tbsp) honey

Crumble the bread and put in a large bowl. Pour in the boiling water, add the malt and cover. Let steep for 24 hours at room temperature or until bubbly and fermented. Sweeten with honey and pour into a bottle. Chill. This makes one quart, probably enough for 4 or 5 drinks.

Tip: Malt may be bought online at www.northernbrewer.com

Susan Hallett is an award-winning writer and editor who has written for The Beaver, The Globe & Mail, Wine Tidings, and Doctor’s Review, among others. She is currently the European editor of Taste & Travel International. Email: hallett_susan@hotmail.com