Now that the trees and fruit trees are blooming and the birds are always singing, spring has officially sprung. It’s going to be 80 degrees next week, so shorts and flip-flops are not far behind.
But as the temperature inches up, so does my unquenchable thirst. Couple that with the desert dryness in Santa Fe and we need to amp up our beverage creations starting right now because there are times when water just doesn’t ignite my taste buds.
I always have plenty of lemons on hand to make homemade lemonade, but the lure of the sweet, organic strawberries available right now calls for something a bit more evocative and exciting. Something that welcomes spring and sets us up for a delicious summer cocktail as well.
Safeguarded from the season’s final cold nights, the $4 basil plant I recently bought sits on my kitchen counter begging for a trim. The saggy branches are praying to be put to good use and I have just the answer.
Strawberries and basil are forever summer pals that blend together beautifully. With the addition of generous splashes of coconut water for a tropical flair and some sparkling water for effervescence, now we have something to talk about.
This strawberry-basil cooler is just different enough to make it attractive, colorful enough be make it intriguing and totally thirst quenching which makes it an essential go-to recipe for the coming months as more of our favorite summer fruits come into season.
Imagine the combinations…peach-mint, blackberry-mint, watermelon-basil, honeydew-mint, pineapple-cilantro (and a touch of jalapeno for a little kick of something spicy), cucumber-lemon-mint-rosemary, strawberry-thyme, blackberry-sage, melon-lavender, lavender-plum, lemon-basil–oh, the possibilities are as endless as are the good times that will begin to fill our summer memory bank.
Add a few glugs of vodka or tequila and the possibility for new rich and colorful summer memories are even brighter with this tropical cooler in hand.
Strawberry and Basil Tropical Cooler
The combination of strawberries and basil with a squeeze of lime makes this cooler a mandatory summer sipper. But get creative with seasonal fruits and herbs and this can be adapted so you can enjoy it all year long. The combination of coconut water and sparking water is what makes this cooler even more special. Add a splash of your favorite liquor and this drink will light up a party.
- 2 cups coconut water unsweetened
- 1 cup frozen strawberries
- 5 fresh basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
- Stevia drops for additional sweetening about 5 drops per glass, optional
- 1 teaspoon chia seeds 1/4 teaspoon per glass
- 1 lime, juiced or 4 wedges
- 4 strawberries for garnish, optional but recommended
- 4 fresh basil leaves for garnish, optional but recommended
- Sparkling water, Topo Chico or Perrier
To a high-speed blender, add the coconut water, berries, basil leaves and sweetener such as honey or maple syrup. Blend on high until the mixture is smooth and colorful, about 1 minute.
You can either pour this into a covered glass jar and let it chill in the fridge or serve immediately. If refrigerating, add the teaspoon of chia seeds to the mixture, Stevia drops (about 20 for four servings) and lime juice and cover, shake well and let it meld in the fridge so the chia seeds absorb the liquid and expand.
If serving immediately, fill the glass of ice halfway with the mixture and add the following to each: 5 drops Stevia (if using), 1/4 teaspoon chia seeds and a squeeze of lime and stir well to combine. Fill the rest of the glass with sparkling water, stir, garnish with a strawberry (if using) and a basil leaf and serve.
For the jar of mixture in the fridge, when it has chilled thoroughly, fill a glass or glasses with ice and pour this mixture halfway. Fill the glass to the rim with sparkling water, stir, garnish with a strawberry (if using( and a basil leaf and serve.
Reserve any leftover cooler in the fridge.
There are a ton of different and seasonal flavor combinations you can create including, but not limited to: peach-mint, blackberry-mint, watermelon-basil, honeydew-mint, pineapple-cilantro (and a touch of jalapeno), cucumber-lemon-mint-rosemary, strawberry-thyme, blackberry-sage, melon-lavender, lavender-plum and so much more.
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