Cairo’s Minty Fresh Lemonade
After a long day trudging through the dust and heat of Cairo, we were thrilled when Zööba cafe chef and owner Moustafa El Refaey offered us a glass of the local answer to lemonade—lamoon bel neana.
The frothy-creamy drink is made by blending lemon juice, milk, fresh mint and ice until frosty and smooth. The result is refreshing, bright and balanced.
We followed El Refaey’s advice to create our own version. To make about two servings, in a blender puree until smooth 2 cups ice cubes, 2 cups lightly packed fresh mint, 6 tablespoons white sugar, 2/3 cup whole milk and 1/3 cup lemon juice. Pour into ice-filled glasses, then garnish with additional mint sprigs and slices of lemon.
Greece's Ice Cold Cappuccino
In Greece, espresso is taken almost as seriously as in Italy, except they prefer to drink it cold and frothy. Your choices are freddo (chilled) espresso or freddo cappuccino, the latter topping the former with a thick froth of cold milk. Either way, it's a rich and refreshing brew typically sipped by straw from a tall glass.
To make freddo espresso, combine a double shot of espresso with a cup of ice in a blender or cocktail shaker (with sugar, if desired). Blend briefly or shake vigorously, just until the ice is broken and the espresso is well chilled. Strain into a tall glass. For freddo cappuccino, combine ½ cup cold low-fat milk and 1 ice cube in a 12- to 16-ounce jar with a tight-fitting lid (a canning jar is ideal). Cover and shake vigorously until the ice is nearly dissolve and the milk is thick and foamy. Pour over the freddo espresso.
Fruitier, Juicier Grenadine + Soda (or Gin!)
At London’s retro-modern Dandelyan bar on the banks of the River Thames, we discovered a refreshing update of grenadine—the mixer often mistaken as cherry-flavored that is in fact traditionally made of pomegranate juice, sugar and water. Most commercial grenadines today are toothachingly sweet, fluorescent red and made from high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors. But at Dandelyan, they simmer elderberry, sour cherry and pomegranate juices into a syrup that’s spiked with cumin. The result is a sophisticated sweetener the bar uses in its version of a Manhattan.
We created a simpler but equally delicious grenadine by simmering 1 cup each pomegranate juice and sour cherry juice with 6 tablespoons white sugar, 1½ tablespoons coriander seeds, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 1 cup, about 20 minutes. Strain and cool, then refrigerate for up to a month. We like it mixed with soda water for a grown-up Shirley Temple or shaken in a gin daisy (2 ounces gin, 1 ounce each lemon juice and grenadine, shaken with ice and strained, then topped with 4 ounces seltzer).
Tarragon Soda from Georgia
In the nation of Georgia, people sip fruity sodas in flavors like pear, orange cream, apple, raspberry and—most traditional of all—tarragon. Sweet-tart, with a mild licorice aroma, on a stomach-settling elixir called tarkhun. It was invented by a Georgian pharmacist in the 1880s and spread throughout the former Soviet republics. We first tasted tarkhun at a café specializing in kachapuri, Georgia’s boat-shaped, egg-topped cheese bread bowl; the sugary soda was the perfect complement.
You can find tarkhun on Amazon for $28; it’s also sold in Russian markets in the U.S. Or make your own: Simmer ¾ cup white sugar and ½ cup water until the sugar dissolves, then add 1 cup fresh tarragon leaves, 1 teaspoon aniseed, 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, 1/8 teaspoon baking soda and a pinch of kosher salt. Boil for 1 minute, then transfer to a blender. Cool for 5 minutes, then blend with ½ cup ice until smooth. Refrigerate for about 1 hour, then strain and stir in ¼ cup lemon juice. For each soda, fill a tall glass with ice, add 2 ounces of syrup and top with seltzer.