When Life Gives You Awesome Lemons, Make “Happy Lemonade”

I find the Beatles’ “I’m So Tired” running through my head a lot nowadays. I try to use my time in the kitchen to focus on just one thing, so I don’t cut my finger half off (again) or overchar something. Even with a housefull of guests (not mine, of course), quiet can be found in the simple repetitions of cutting, stirring, basting…

The produce out in the Hamptons right now is just breathtaking, and it inspires me to appreciate and make the most out of each deliciously full meal I get paid to make. A handful of fresh mint from Round Swamp Farm sent me reeling. My upcoming feature for Easy Eats magazine (out mid-July) is on the joy of local honeys and their flavorful abundance, and I’ve become a new convert to sourcing local, rich honeys of vastly different colors, textures, aromas and flavor combinations. The Hamptons offers plenty of those, too.

So the mint and honey combo had me craving fresh lemonade. I LOVE it, but hate when sugar becomes the main flavor and sweetness overpowers refreshiment. Using a floral, lightly-sweet honey and fresh mint made mine a simply fresh, flavorful beverage that completely refreshed me midway through a long day. The next night, I added some local blueberries and a few nods of local bourbon (Hudson Valley Four Grain Whiskey, to be exact) for a late-night, happy-rejuvenating date when I spent a few hours breathing the same air with someone special. We’ll be tipping these back as we cook fresh HUGE langostines and striped bass caught yesterday morning and watch the fireworks from his roof on the Hudson tomorrow.

It seems silly to post a recipe for lemonade, but it made me so happy.

Hence… HAPPY LEMONADE!

Happy Lemonade

For each serving:

8 oz cold filtered water
juice of one large, preferably organic lemon
1 tsp thinly ribboned fresh mint, plus more for garnish
2 tsp local, light, floral honey, such as clover or blueberry
1.5 oz really awesome bourbon
5/6 blueberries

Squeeze lemon juice into water, reserving a slice to garnish (if making for a group, slice a fresh lemon instead and float on top). Stream in honey, whisking continually to dissolve. Taste and adjust to your sweetness level (2 tsp is perfect for me).

Fill long Pilsner or pint glasses with ice, fill, and add bourbon. Taste and adjust. Drop in mint and give it a twirl. Drop in blueberries and have fun watching them bob and weave around the ice.

Garnish with mint and lemon slice and bottoms up!

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